Sunday, December 28, 2014

Southern California Wineries

I bet when you think of California wines the first thing that comes to mind is Napa and Sonoma and maybe the Russian River area.  That northern California area is a mecca of fine wine.  However, southern California also has a great wine growing area and many beautiful wineries to visit.

The Temecula Valley area is inland, east of San Clemente.

There are some very beautiful wineries both large and small in this area and many opportunities for wine tasting, dining and enjoying the views.  One of the larger wineries is the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa pictured to the left.  The grounds and buildings at this winery are beautiful making it a lovely place for a weekend getaway.

The area looks a lot like it's northern counterpart with rolling hills and rows of grape vines in every direction and you don't have to drive far to hop from one winery to another so you can savor all the lovely wines along the way.  (With a designated driver, of course.)

At the Callaway Vineyard and Winery, you can enjoy a tasting in their very large tasting room, lined with barrels.  They had an amazing variety of wines available to taste.

And when you step outside the Callaway Winery, you will see more wine barrels lined up neatly along the patio making a perfect photo opportunity.

At Miramonte Winery you will be introduced to Mira, this very mellow black giant; a beautiful Newfoundland.  She greeted us warmly with a wag of the tail but decided not to get up.  She must be quite used to the steady stream of visitors on their way into the spacious tasting room.

The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has a great web site listing all the wineries in the area and providing trip planning information and self-guided tour maps.  Check it out here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Inside the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Exploring the inside of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum leads you to a wonderful array of artifacts and interesting displays and models to depict what life was like back in the time of the Pharaohs.  You will also notice that the museum is quite different from most museums.  For one thing, there is no gift shop.  You heard correctly, there is no obligatory retail space that you must pass through before exiting the museum.  There is also no cafe or food service.   However the large collection of antiques spanning the pre-dynastic time through Egypt's early Islamic era, are wonderfully displayed and explained.

These clear glass vessels amazed me. The one in the center is called a Double Unguentary because it was designed to hold cosmetic unguents or ointments.  I had never seen one of these ancient glass containers that was so clear and well preserved.  This one dates back to the year 390.

I also enjoyed seeing this painting that was done by the museum's founder, H. Spencer Lewis.  Not only was he a philosopher and explorer, but, he was also a very talented artist.  This painting depicts the creation of the famous bust of Nefertiti.  (The museum has a replica of the bust on display in one of the galleries.)  Looking at this painting makes me feel like I'm a witness to history.

The museum also has many casts of different Egyptian statues that reside in much larger museums across the globe.  The statue to the left of Sekhmet, the healing goddess is one example.  This goddess would have been  called upon when someone was ill.

The cast was acquired in 1938 and is made from the original located in the British Museum.

I enjoyed taking the guided tour of the museum's replica of an Egyptian tomb.  The museum created this burial chamber based on authentic tombs discovered in the hills of Egypt.  The guide explained the paintings on the wall and pointed out where the sarcophagus would be located and where all the supplies designed to sustain the afterlife would have been placed.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

Museum Entrance

One of the reasons that I wanted to visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose California was because of the unique architecture of the buildings and the gardens around the museum.

Unfortunately, my visit on December 5th was on the heels of six days straight of rain in parched northern California. 


The gardens had taken quite a beating from mother nature's deluge.  The grounds were just a bit disheveled from the watery hammering they had taken but, the groundskeepers were busy cleaning up the fallen leaves and branches.

Garden fountain

Rosicrucian Temple

All of the buildings were carefully designed to look like different Egyptian temples.  The one above is designed like the Temple of Dendera while the museum (top photo) is designed like the Temple of Amon at Karnak.

The entrance above invites the visitor to step into the garden area and enjoy the quiet paths that lead all around the property.  

I'll post more about this place next Sunday!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bandstand on an Island

Forest Park is easily one of the biggest treasures in the city of St. Louis Missouri.  At a total of 1,293 acres it is one of the largest parks in the country and is roughly over 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York.  One of my favorite features in the park is the Nathan Frank Bandstand located on an island in Pagoda Lake.

The original structure was a wooden pagoda built in 1876 at the time the park was dedicated.  The original Asian style pagoda fell into disrepair and was declared unsafe in 1911.  Before it could be renovated, it blew over in a storm and was damaged beyond repair.

St. Louis lawyer Nathan Frank donated the funds to build a new structure in a classical Renaissance design made of white marble with bronze railings and ornaments.  Since 1924 it's stood looking elegant and stately in its place of honor on the small island in the lake.

The photo above was taken on a recent trip to St. Louis.

This photo was taken on a very cold and rainy day back in the mid 90's.  I took this photo through the window of the car to give it that misty, watery look.