Sunday, August 29, 2021

Through the Decades


I've been to the Grand Canyon many, many times and not just after I moved to Arizona.  I visited the canyon at least twice before I moved to the state.  Above is a scanned slide that dates back to the mid-60's.  I was probably still in school when these were taken on one of our family vacations.

Here is one of my dad posing as he gazes out over the vast expanse of the canyon.  

And here is another shot showing the touring helicopter.  I'm wasn't sure they did these helicopter tours any longer so I checked and sure enough, you can book a ride over and through the canyon if you want.

These next four photos were taken one Thanksgiving Day when I joined my sister and her husband for Thanksgiving dinner at El Tovar Lodge at the Grand Canyon.  

It had been snowing already at the canyon so it was fun for me coming from Phoenix to get a little taste of winter.  There was even enough snow for someone to have made a snowman.

There was so much fog in the air, it was difficult to make out all the different layers the canyon usually displays.  It also gave the canyon a mysterious, shrouded look.

The last time I was at the canyon was a couple of years ago on a very hot day in July.  It was easy to see all the layers and colors of the canyon on that visit.

Standing on the rim and looking into the canyon is a unique experience.  I remember my very first visit, it took a few minutes for my young mind to grasp the sheer size of the place.  In fact, I think my very first, teenage thought was "what's the big deal".  About 30 minutes later I was just as speechless as everyone else staring over the edge.

On this last trip, my dad wasn't around to pose while looking into the canyon.  However I did spot this young lady posing for shot.  I hope that photo turned out well and she keeps it over the years to come.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sanctuary Hidden in the Desert


I can't believe it's been seven years since I visited St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery.  That visit was both fascinating and inspiring and I am determined to make a return visit.  The monastery is located in the middle of the desert about seventy miles southeast of Phoenix.  In fact on the drive to it one wonders how anything so beautiful could exist in such a harsh environment.  

The monastery consists of one main chapel for daily services and other smaller chapels dedicated to various saints.  The top photo is inside the main chapel.  The photo above shows the grounds from the steps of the chapel.  You might notice that the ladies occupying the benches all have head coverings.  That is a requirement to visit the monastery.  Women must wear loose skirts, long sleeved and high necked blouses and a scarf on the head and around the neck at all times.  Men must wear long pants and long sleeved shirts and their heads must be uncovered at all times.  Sandals and other open toed shoes are not allowed.  Because of these requirements, any visits I make have to be done in the cooler months.  

I posted about my visit to this place in March of 2014. If you click the link you can see the photos I posted at that time.

The architecture of the many chapels on the property is exquisite.  Wandering the grounds provides beautiful views in every direction. 

As you might imagine, visiting this place is very peaceful and relaxing.  The only sounds you hear on the grounds are the chirping of birds.  All of the visitors are respectfully quiet.  

There are nine chapels on the property that serve as shrines for the holy relics of the named saints as well as for smaller services and quiet places to pray.  The saints honored here are:
St. Nicholas
St. George
St. Demetrios
St. Seraphim of Sarov
St. Panteleimon
St. Menas
St. John the Forerunner
The Holy prophet Elias

St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery has become the largest Orthodox Monastery in the Western Hemisphere.

The harsh conditions of the desert environment have not deterred the monastery's growth.  

I hope I can make another visit sometime this coming winter.

Anyone planning a visit to this beautiful place should visit their website for directions and specific requirements of attire.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Beauty at the Mission


I've posted twice before about the beautiful San Juan Capistrano Mission in Southern California.  Today I have more photos from that mission.  The mission is one of the 21 missions established by Spain when that country ruled much of the California territory.  Capistrano is one of the best preserved of all of them.

In this post I'm featuring photos from around the grounds of the mission.  The mission itself is built in a square very much like a fort would have been built.  In the center of that square is a grand courtyard.

In the center of the courtyard is a very large fountain that appears to be overflowing with water lilies.  

The walls of the old mission buildings show their age in a way that is very appealing.

The mission was founded on November 1, 1776 and was the seventh of the nine missions founded by Father Junipero Serra.  

I think I've toured this mission at least four different times and I'd happily go again.  It is such a beautiful place full of history and inspiration.  It's rewarding to be surrounded by such beauty for one or two hours.

You can see more photos from this beautiful mission here and here.  

Sunday, August 8, 2021

A Lesser Known Wine Country


East of San Clemente in Southern California is a wine growing area that produces award winning wines.  Not many people know about the Temecula valley that is separated from the coast by an expanse of rolling hills.  

There are over 40 wineries here, some large and some quite small.  All of them provide a wine country outing well away from the predominate Napa and Sonoma Valley experience.  

The area provides expansive views with vineyards in every direction.

Probably the most well known of the wineries in this area is Callaway Vineyards.  They produce a large volume of wines that are sold all over the United States.

The last time I was in this area (several years ago), I visited at least 6 different wineries.  Some of them had large tasting rooms while others were almost like visiting someone's home.  It was an interesting mix.

Even if a day of wine tasting isn't your thing, you would still find plenty to see and do in this area.  It is beautiful countryside and many of the wineries have gorgeous gardens to enjoy.  A drive through the Temecula Valley is a very pleasant experience.  

Sunday, August 1, 2021

To Honor Prince Albert


Much has been written about the grand love between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert so it's not surprising that many tributes to the Prince would be seen around London.

One prominent tribute is Royal Albert Hall, the famous concert hall located in South Kensington London.  I've been lucky enough to attend a performance of the Royal Philharmonic inside this grand building.

Standing in front of the hall is a statue of Prince Albert by John Durham.  It's a beautiful statue that deserves more attention than it gets.  However, behind the hall stands another more famous tribute to Prince Albert.

The Albert Memorial sits on the edge of Kensington Gardens directly north of Royal Albert Hall.  It was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband who died in 1861.  It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the Gothic Revival style.  Albert sits on a throne under an elaborate pavilion.  Around the base are allegorical sculptures representing Agriculture, Commerce, Engineering and Manufacturing.  There are four more statues representing four continents, America, Africa, Asia and Europe.  

Not far from Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial is the Victoria and Albert Museum.  This view above is of the rear entrance seen inside the museum's courtyard.  The Victoria and Albert Museum was founded in 1852 and named for the royal couple.  It was built in South Kensington in an area known as "Albertopolis" because of all the cultural facilities located here at Prince Albert's direction.  

One more tribute to Prince Albert can be found in the center of a busy intersection called Holborn Circus.  This statue is the City of London's official monument to Prince Albert.  It is an equestrian statue with Albert raising his hat as if recognizing onlookers at a parade or ceremony.  This statue was created by Charles Bacon and is considered one of his best works.

Prince Albert may have been a Royal Consort but is influence over the Queen as well as the land is evident in all corners of the city.