Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

DC Environmental Film Festival

The 25th Washington DC environmental film festival is halfway through its 10 days. I’ve seen a few movies about the wilderness near the Arctic Circle, glaciers and other themes. I enjoy that the movies take you to see very unique spaces all over the world.

However, my favorite movies focus on animals. One took us only two states south of the Nation’s Capital where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)  created a success story with the development of a habitat for Red wolves. The species had been limited to a very few in the mid-1980s and the USFWS moved them into one part of their historic range in North Carolina.

Currently, the reintroduction faces cultural, economic, and biological challenges in Eastern North Carolina. Natures abhors a vacuum and coyotes moved in to the territory and pose a threat if the wolves interbreed with them. Most interesting, the area farmers have issues with the coyotes invading their farms. They want to shoot the beasts and sometimes they end up shooting red wolves instead.

This conflict between people near the wildlife reserve or national park and the animals in the park also occurred in Mozambique. After years of civil warring, the government and several other national governments along with non-profits focused on conservation worked to reestablish Gorongosa National Park. In this case, the planning has focused on the huge park and all the farmers surrounding its borders. Efforts have been made to help those people improve their living conditions by helping them earn money and farm more profitably.

As the panelists after the movie stated this is the new way of approaching conservation, taking the entire ecosystem into account, including people outside the protected area. It seems to be working and is something that the USFWS and other agencies of the US government ought to consider when they try to save species. You need to win over the local population to the effort.

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Portugal: Cathedrals and Monestaries

Before most of us go on a vacation, we have thought a lot about the place where we are going. I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for decades, believing that I would love the climate and the people. I knew the country had a long history of Catholicism so expected to see many old cathedrals and monasteries.

We started in Lisbon and spent our time walking around the neighborhoods rather than visit any of the cathedrals. The next day we went to Belem, near Lisbon that became a major agricultural city during the 1400s under King Alfonso III.  What Henry the Navigator started as a church dedicated to Saint Mary eventually became an amazing cathedral and a monastery for the  Jerónimos Monastery and is now a UNESCO Heritage site.

The entrance to the cathedral is in the Manueline style, after King Manuel who built the building.

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The rose windows and other touches are beautiful but I really enjoyed the vault and the pillars because of their ornate style and the intricacy of the beams on the ceiling.

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The monastery used the same style and material and had a gorgeous court yard.

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A few days later we began our drive up north toward Porto. On the second day we stopped in the town of Alcobaca. We ate and walked around the town a bit before starting thinking that we would be inside for quite a long time. Dating back to the 1100s, and the victory of the first Portuguese King over the Moors, this church and monastery turned out to be the first Gothic-style buildings in the country.

The huge plaza and entry appeared sparse.

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The royal tombs and the sacristy were pleasant to view and included amazing detail,

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but I really enjoyed the stripped down nave and aisle. I learned that such design was the intention of the order of the church (devoid of decoration, as required in Cistercian churches)

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While much of the church remained over the 800 years, the monastery experienced many changes. The enclosed yard reflected a beautiful hedge garden.

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Some walls had the mosaic tile with images telling a particular Christian story.

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We continued traveling that afternoon and reached another small town called Batalha. The name translates to battle in Portuguese and is named after Battle of Aljubarrota (August 14, 1385), where the Portuguese held off a larger Spanish army.

We ate and spent the evening walking around some of the parks in the city. Next morning we got up and went to the monestary built to celebrate the victory. The large plaza in front led to this few of the original cathedral.

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Inside were impressive stained glass windows not quite up to Parisian standards but…

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I found the cathedral nave beautiful.

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This UNESCO Heritage site is well known for the ceiling of the chapterhouse: “This star vault lacks a central support while spanning a space of 19 square meters. This was such a daring concept at the time that condemned prisoners were used to perform the task. It was completed after two failed attempts. When the last scaffolds were removed, it is said that Huguet spent the night under the vault in order to silence his critics.”

100_4084The court yard also featured fabulous hedging.

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In 1437 by King Edward of Portugal (“Dom Duarte”, d.1438) commissioned a new chapel as a second royal mausoleum for himself and his descendants. It has not been completed.

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With different architects contributing to its constructions for nearly a century the building has elements of Manueline, Gothic, and Renaissance loggia. It is massive and filled with ornate carvings that somehow withstood the elements of nature.

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Portugal’s Castles and Palaces

On our recent trip to Portugal we encountered several castles. One of the first area’s we visited in Lisbon was the old city of Alfama. The neighborhood dates back to the Medieval times and includes Moorish influences. Its winding streets proved nothing like the uphill trudge to Castelo, where the castle of St. George held forth on top of the hill. The views of the city and this uphill walk explained why this represented an ideal location for a fortification.

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Amazingly, this fort served the Romans, the Visigoths who displaced them. The Arabs who took over the Iberian Peninsula, and finally the Christians. It served as the Royal Palace for the Portuguese during the late 1300s.

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Another castle of the Arab and early Portuguese eras, served the walled city of Obidos. The best thing about the city involved being able to walk the old wall from the entry gate to the castle.

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The sun baked the area in heat and you could feel sweat as we made our way. We reached the end where the castle stood. This palace lacked the charm of St. George’s but at least one  took solace in the presence of instruments of torture around the other side.

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In the medieval city of Coimbra, the palace received a unique role, it became a university, and the University of Coimbra is well-respected one at that. Here’s the view the balcony of the palace offered:

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The palace served as a location of class rooms, the former quarters of servants provided more classrooms and dorms. For those of us who earned doctorate degrees, defending in a room such as this with the university’s deans looking down upon you, daunting.

 

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A second view from the outside balcony revealed the layout.

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The notable library, known as Biblioteca Joanina, on the far right-hand side of the photo can be seen in these photos taken on the sly.

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Some of us who consider ourselves rebellious and rule breakers might have taken a different route at this university. The library’s basement served as an academic prison for students who broke the rules. The student stayed in the stark concrete areas talking with no one and a guard escorted him to classes using the back stairs.

By far the most picturesque location for castles and palaces is Sintra. In the hills, an hour outside of Lisbon, Sintra attracted attention 200 years ago when the Romantics wrote wistfully about its charms. This UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, became the center of European nineteenth century Romantic architecture. But the castle served as a Arabic remnant that the Christians isolated during the ninth century. This photo illustrates the remnants that remain of the castle.

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This view came from the top of the Royal Palace built under the reign of Queen Maria of Portugal (1834-1853) who left many of the details of the Palace de Pena to her husband, King-Consort Ferdinand. Taking over the remains of  the 16th century monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, the royal pair hired an architect Baron von Eschwege to design the place. However, the palace had too many Germanic elements in its initial stages and five years later, the architect and Ferdinand shaped the palace more toward the history of their country and the royal pair’s taste.

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It did seem to have a theme park look but the feel definitely became real as one entered inside through the archway. The tile felt very Portuguese and the Manueline, Romantic, Moorish and other styles worked together.

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All servants and the royals walked around the palace using the cloisters which contained a great deal of elaborate design elements. This tile is different from the outside and there are several creatures whose mouths provide water drainage and visages scare away evil spirits.

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Inside the three generations of kings and queens who used the palace had many rooms, including separate bedrooms, baths and offices. 100_3851

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What’s a palace without great grounds. hidden amidst the acres of land were a chalet, three duck ponds, a small lake and a gazebo.

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Marvelous trees lined the paths.

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After stopping for lunch we headed to a palace from the late 1800’s built on land recently sold in 1892 to Carvalho Monteiro, who inherited family money made from precious stones and coffee from Brazil. A lawyer trained at the University of Coimbra, Monteiro and his architect Luigi Manini, build Quinta da Regaleira, to display symbols that reflected his interests and ideologies.

We went through the palace and chapel at hare speed.

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We looked forward to taking on the amazing grounds. These neatly sculpted winding paths gave way to a forest toward the eastern end of the park.

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The grounds included tunnels, initiation wells and lakes, fountains and even an aquarium.

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One well carried the reputation of representing Dante’s circles of Hell. As you walked around and around, ever descending into the darkness one was left to wonder.

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Galapagos Vacation Cruise Two

Since we were continuing our cruise aboard the Coral I, the ship dropped us off on the island to see the Highlands and the tortoise sanctuary on a private farm. We were with two lesbians from Australia whose company we enjoyed. When we arrived, the people from the cruise who were flying out that afternoon stood at the entrance to the farm. We exchanged hugs and fist bumps with them before they boarded their bus for the airport.

at the private farm

The ship took off on a long route to the southern portion of the Galapagos for Espanola. Before breakfast sea creatures came by the boat. We watched a pack of dolphins jump in the water. Manta and black rays appeared off the bow.

Manta rays in formationThe lone black ray seemed comfortable on his/her own.

black ray

Monday began with Floreana offered us Cormorant Point and a colony of pink flamingos in lagoons.

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The “Green Beach” is named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the “Four Sand Beach” is composed of white coral. Instead of staying on the beach I decided to join in the snorkeling activity.

Cormorant Point had craters that house reefs provide one of the best places for swimming and snorkeling at Devil’s Crown. The devil did me in. The water was deep and we had a long swim so I was often trailing behind the group and missing some of the great sea creatures.

We moved in the afternoon to the Post Office Bay. Yes, the name is literal. Vacationers put post cards that they receive on board the ship into the box as sailors once did hundreds of years ago. The hope is that a visitor would mail the card if they lived near the area. Seemed like a silly exercise to me and I did not partake. Instead we made our way to the beach.

My favorite part was the old soccer field. Here’s a look through the net on one end.

looking through the soccer net

There’s always sea lions on the beach; often putting on a show, intentionally or not.

sea lion formation

Even the iguanas struck a pose.

what are they looking at?

Our voyage moved back toward the eastern section of the islands. On Espanola, we started with Suarez Point, a dry landing but supposedly one of the more difficult ones that we would encounter. The island had many birds and a giant blowhole.

Suarez Point

In the afternoon Gardner Bay hosted us with its turquoise water and the white coralline sand beach that reaches around the point a kilometer away. We passed a herd of sea lions all lined up basking in the sun along the beach to find mysterious prints in the sand.

Gardener Bay beach

The iguanas get more active up in the cliffs. They manage their territory and look for mates, sparking the occasional fight. The cliffs housed the waved albatross colony that spends three-quarters of the year in the islands or nearby in Peru and Ecuador. The remaining time, they fly as far as parts of Asia.

in the cliffs

The birds are remarkable in flight with a wing span of over 7 feet.

albatross in the air

There’s always time for another beach excursion where shining lizards capture the eye. One is copper and another red.

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After returning to the enticements of the big capital city of Quito, we arranged for a taxi to drive us into the Andes to visit Park De Condor. We saw a bird show featuring raptors of all sorts.

bird demonstration

While the condors weren’t taken out, we walked over to their cage. This bird has the largest wing span in the world. While Ira thought it humorous that we drove 2.5 hours to see such an ugly buzzard, I’d read books with pictures of condors in them since the late 1960s. The smaller California species is making a comeback in the US. but its larger cousin is struggling in the wild.

condors

The park had an impressive array of raptors, including a great bald eagle.

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or this beauty with a sharp gaze on something tasty:

another raptor

this one wouldn’t hear of being in a photograph

seemingly distracted

Galapagos Islands Cruise One

We started our first cruise in the middle of the week. We stepped on the ship and saw our small cabin. Home for the next five days and four nights.

Inside our cabin

We pushed our single beds together to give us the kind of sleeping quarters we wanted. The suitcases went under the bed, out of the way.

The tour began with a discussion of the rules, including stay on the paths and touch nothing!!! Fortunately, the other 30 or so people on the boat seemed as enthusiastic and were as young or younger than us. They also seemed to understand the special nature of where they were and would obey the rules. We then took off in our first of many dingy rides with fifteen others for a raft ride. We took a bus to the Cerro Colorado – Tortoise Reserve n San Cristobal. Since giant tortoises are where the islands got their name, this seemed an appropriate beginning.

Giant Tortoise

The tour started in Sa Cristobal for the first two days, moved up to the some of the northern islands of Bartolome, Rabida and San Salvador, with the last day spent on Santa Cruz. Each days itinerary would be announced the night before and then available for reading during the day in the lounge/bar room.

First day gets you into the pattern. A 6:30 or 7 am wake-up call, breakfast for an hour, half hour to get ready, and into the dingy boat  to your first event at 8:30 am. We started with birding on a large rockcropping.

Rock cropping near Santa Cristobal

The site gave us one particular visage that accompanied us throughout the trip. The pseudo-barren rock is one type of location that appears often in the Galapagos. It serves as an arresting contrast to another popular land form, the long beach, which we saw often as well. Birds, particularly frigates and Nunca Boobies made nests in the rocks or thin vegetation.

In the afternoon, the ship moved around the island and we walked through the water to get onto Point Pitt. The moderately long beach had a greenish tinge that came from olivine. We walked up to the top of a volcanic tuff and looked out over the island. Some wild vegetation appeared on the way.

wild bush

Cactus are on the Galapagos islands in many forms.

cactus tree

Next day, we moved on toward Mosquera Islet, which is located between North Seymour and Baltra Islands. A large colony of sea lions lay about, along with a group of marine iguanas. The faces on the iguana looked ghostly.

marine iguana

But most shocking, the carcasses of sea lions and iguanas appeared along our stroll down the beach.

bones

In the afternoon we had two sets of activities on Bartolome island. We made a wet landing and had an hour to snorkle, then we got in the boat and took off to walk up a long series of steps to the top of the island’s volcano.

Before reaching the beach, the dingy zoomed over to the rocks to show us the most tropical of penguins.Galapagos penguins

Not all of the fascinating species were only visible underwater. I had fun chatting with our travelers, like a crew from Australia.

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view from Bartolome Island
The impressive views from the top of the 365 stairs to the top of Bartolome Island gave you the chance to see the apparent lifeless surroundings on the island but a great view of the neighboring area. The climb is not as difficult as we may have believed.

101_0297Whether the starkness of this landscape, or simply my interest in things that are different, I could not wait until next morning when we would visit an island with red sand.

Actually, I could wait. After playing cards during the afternoon siesta break, I started a game of Risk with the Canadian family, there because their son had always wanted to visit the Galapagos.

absorbed in the game

We made the excursion to Rabida Island the next morning. The sand’s red hue comes from the iron that the volcano carried when it erupted to create the island and its beach. Rabida's red sand beach

The island had another of the Galapagos’s iconic birds, the blue-footed booby. Their distinctive bright blue feet are a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting one and then the other up, while strutting before the female. Both males and females prefer mates with brighter feet and adjust their parental investment based on the attractiveness of their mate.

Blue Footed Boobies

Occasionally, these beasts with their remarkable traits come to you. This frigate bird stopped for a show on our boat before we left for the island. The red waddle also helps the males attract females of their species.

Male Frigate bird in full display

As if this wasn’t remarkable enough, the frigate lacks the ability to swim and cannot walk well. Most importantly, they cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs. Their food comes from catching fish and turtles on the surface of the water as they remain aloft.

In the afternoon, we followed in Charles Darwin’s footprints and had a wet landing on Egas Port of Santiago Island. We saw a black sand beach and a very rocky coast line filled with sea lions and marine iguanas.

sea lions lounging among the rocks

 

Like many other animals they are more fun when they engage us. Here’s a sea lion who wanted to swim with the snorkeling humans.

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While not as interested in the people, some of the marine iguanas put on their own display. They are quite efficient swimmers.

marine iguana swimming

Galapagos Vacation

Back from spending two weeks in Ecuador.  Spent months looking over all the travel books, Travel Advisor, and blogs and other sites finding out everything I could about the country and the islands. While there are a few islands that no one can visit, there are still 14 that you can see but you need two weeks.

Galapagos Islands

We started with an itinerary that featured a week with most of the time focused on the western islands, Fernandina and Isabela, because they are large and had many animals and birds on them. However, just before we left, our itinerary got changed from these islands to the oldest and northern islands. While there are many animals on these islands we did not think we would see the variety that we had hoped to see.

Travelers can see the Galapagos by traveling by boat or staying on land in hotels and move from site to site. We opted to stay on a ship, making that our home for an entire week, or two tours. We opted to stay on a ship with 30 other passengers. You can stay on a ship with a total of 16 travelers or 100 travelers. We decided that 30 people gave us more of a variety of people to spend time with than the smaller number yet not too many as the larger number of passengers. The larger ships also have less flexibility in approaching certain islands as do smaller vessels.

Next, we had to figure what length of time to cruise on the ship. Choices range from 3 days to 14 days. We decided to put two trips together, which made 8 days and got us to nearly half the islands.

Tourists land at one of two airports. We landed on San Cristobal and needed to wait until the guides organized all of us to get on one of two buses. We reached the harbor and caught this sight.

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You know that you are in for some unusual sights and activities. We boarded our boat and got this night sky.

Sunset in Galapagos

Death Valley National Park

For a long time I’d wanted to go to Death Valley. to see Badwater, the lowest point in North America. To see the colors of Artist Palette, the view from Dante’s Peak, the scale of Zabriske’s Point and the oddity of Scotty’s Castle.

We drove in through the town of Lone Pines and hit the long straight road. There was little to see in Panamint. The general store and motel comprised the village of Stovepipe Wells. We got out and walked around and felt the sun bask down upon our heads.

Happy to get back in the air conditioned car, we spotted the Mesquite Sand Dunesand got out to walk among them. Created from the blown sand off the neighboring rocks and the walls of rock that block the wind from taking the sand away, the dunes are huge.

These were the first of the amazing geological history and formations that exist in the park.

Next day, we got out early to do some hiking because the temperature would rise to 109 degrees.

We saw Badwater and walked amid the crunchy salt lake that is all but gone. The first picture hints at the scope of this land and the second shows you up close. You look up to the mountains from the salt bed and see a sign that tells you where sea level is–Badwater is 282 feet below sea level.

Ira and I jumped into the car and walked into a canyon.

After being outside for awhile we decided to stay in the car and drive the Artist’s Drive, which has the famous Artist’s palette. Built by the great work of the 1930’s federal government-sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps, the road bends through very colorful rock formations. Thank you to the foresight of the people behind that work so we can see this beautiful environment.

The artist’ palette contains rocks including exposed copper, iron, which accounts for the coloring.

The Park is huge and there are ruins from early twentieth-century mining operations in the Park and in some of the towns on the outskirts. We visited the town of Rhyoline, where the old bank and school represented the ghost town.

This far east section of the park housed the local spectacle of Scotty’s Castle. A former player in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, Walter Scott conned various people with claims of mining holdings in the area. When Albert Johnson came to see his mining operations, he found nothing but somehow formed a relationship with Scotty. He and his wife built a castle in the desert and for awhile Scotty lived on the premises.

We watched our second desert sunset from the Harmony Borax ruins near the Furnace Creek Ranch where we stayed.

Next day, we started early again and were amazed at the beauty from Dante’s View, over 5,700 feet above Badwater.

We left the park and ate at the sole location in Death Valley Junction. Now, we faced a new choice, stop at a date farm or a national wildlife refuge on our way to Las Vegas.

I’ve brought in electronic records from the Fish and Wildlife Service that show the geography of the wildlife refuges and also records that show threatened and endangered species, so I wanted to go to the refuge. Ash Meadow was, like much of the area, a water rich area. After a fair amount of time in the 20th century as a cotton farm, the federal government bought the land to preserve the 21 endemic creatures that only live in this area. They include the Pupfish and several different kinds of birds.

While walking along the trails we saw a jack rabbit and a road runner!

Driving California Highway 395

Not many people think much of interest exists between Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park. George Cantor’s book, Pop Culture Landmarks: A Traveler’s Guide  offers no locations. Highway 395 runs between the end of the Mojave Desert and the top of Washington State. Our trip took us through the famous Owens Valley were Los Angeles grabbed its water supply.

The information we had mentioned the Eastern California Museum. We rolled at 25 miles an hour into Independence, California anyway, so we made a right turn, passed the house of 19th century author  and pulled into the small parking lot of the museum. It was 94 outside with a scorching sun.

The information mentioned the museum’s collection of Native American baskets by the local Timbisha and Paiutes. We walked inside and were blown away. The baskets and other items were there but so was much more.

Details regarding the water struggle with L.A. still fascinate. On the rear wall was a map drawn by a local showing the
Valley and the path of the river, lake and small towns along it that used the water for their once thriving agriculture.

Striking photographs of the Japanese-Americans who were relocated to the nearby Manzanar camp during World War II. Since the buildings were immediately removed after the end of the War, the Museum holds the most substantial collections of the materials for the now National Historic Site. I showed John, the Museum’s Services Administrator, how to look up the National Archives’ database on the internees in the camps.

We left and talked about the collections along the drive. We saw the marquee of a theater and old movie posters when we slowed down going through the town of Lone Pines. I said that we had to turn the car around and go inside. Glad we did!

Another amazing jewel. This old mining town had long served as the backdrop for the filming of many Hollywood westerns. http://www.lonepinechamber.org/siteseeing/movie-locations.html

Inside the old theater which still showed movies, was a treasure trove and some amazing memorabilia and descriptions of moving making in the area.

Among the fun exhibits is a collection of hats worn by male and female movie stars during the movies they shot in the area.

The movies shot in the area form an extensive list. The biggest names for me included: Demi Moore’s G.I. Jane, Cary Grant’s Gugna Din from 1939, Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989) and Kevin Bacon’s Tremors from 1990. The data base can be found below.

http://www.lonepinefilmhistorymuseum.org/index.php?option=com_joodb&view=catalog&Itemid=31

Vietnam Sight: Ho Chi Minh Museum

After days traveling around Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and then to Hanoi, I had my fill of Ho Chi Minh.

Yes, the man led an independence movement. He lived an austere life which is too often rare for leaders. He believed in the value of the national state and the need for people to lead their own country.

However, after seeing hundreds of posters, placards and billboards as well as his image on every bill, I had enough. Or so I thought.

We went to the Ho Chi Minh Museum and I was surprised.

The top floor is not simply a series of artifacts to tell Ho Chi Minh’s life. Nor is it filled with text that describes the key moments. Instead, the floor is split up into exhibit spaces, eight in all, the chronicle Minh’s life. They break his life into segments and surround them with larger ideas that occurred during the decade, such as Post-Impressionist Paris, Marxist thought in Russia, modernism in Europe, and the fight against fascists during World War II.

These ideas are told in a very environmental manner. They’re art installations, in the tradition of the 1970s art scene.
You walk through spaces that show you modernism, or show you Paris during the last decade of the 19th century. You not only see these ideas but you feel them as you walk through the spaces.

The area covering the independence fight against the French and Americans appears within the section that features this look.

One reviewer summarizes some of my perceptions about the museum:

The whole thing is utterly anachronistic, and sort of mind-blowing, which is to say, something you absolutely must see to believe. It’s hard to imagine what contemporary Vietnamese who visit here would make of the place. Small children may subsequently suffer from very confusing dreams for years to come.

Salt Lake City In One Day

Arrived at 10 am and walked into the tourism office, the capital building during the late 1800s. Known now as the Council Building, it sits directly across from the new Capitol at the top of the main hill in the city.

The young guy behind the counter advised to see all but Saltair, the old amusement park built on the edge of Salt Lake.We dashed up the hundred steps to the capitol. The Renaissance building from 1915 is made of gorgeous marble. The doors are so heavy they are a workout to open. The rotunda has murals of Brigham oung, General John Fremont, and other important figures in Utah history.

The University of Utah was plugging its ten years of research projects, so all these cute young men and women, dressed snappily, stood  beside easels holding descriptions of their research projects. We followed a tour up to the old Supreme Court chambers, painted in very bold colors.

Next, we walked down State Street past a gorgeous  bed and breakfast called Inn On The Hill.

The houses on the other side of the street were modest, but had cool elements, like sharing a staircase.

We made it to Temple Square and walked into the South Visitors Building. My partner used the computer to find his ancestors but mine did not show up. We saw a model of the famed cathedral and the history of its construction from Young’s vision, through the quarry operation to bring over the stone.

We saw the old Assembly Hall, which is a fine modest building that has a gentle slope to enable all to see the nave. White wood pews filled the eyes on both levels of the building. We scooted over to hear the organist perform the noon time show at the Tabernacle. The number of choir seats is astounding, as amazing to me as the building’s acoustics. We heard two John Philip Sousa marches and two other pieces before leaving for the nearby Arts Center.

The Arts center had pieces from Sundance. James Franco’s work from Three’s Company headlined other video and 3d installement pieces.

We ate a wonderful lunch at Vicsovio’s onMain Street and scooted over to the Moshe Safdies public library. A glorious building that harks to both the architect’s Salem Massachusetts Museum and the new Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms building in Washington, DC.

We met up with a grad student at Uof U down at his place near Rt 80. We had a blast and found out that there are many gays on the Salt Lake City police department’s staff.

Next we drove across to the west side of town to see the Rio Grande Train Depot. Here the archives, historic preservation and related works share office space. There is much memorabilia in the display cases, ranging from old tickets to uniforms. The Rio Grande Caffe is a blast from the past–luncheonette and diner.

Went up the street to the Union Pacfic Railroad Depot, which is a large unoccupied space available for rent. Next was Gateway Plaza. Reportedly developed by the LDS Church, it is an intriguing attempt to bring commercial shops, nightclubs and restaurants to this long neglected area. I enjoyed seeing the Utah Jazz’ arena across the street.

We ended our trip on the east side of town. First we looked at the historical Trolley Station, which has restaurants and a Whole Foods. We continued driving to Sugarhouse part of the city, 9th and 9th. New Age and cafes mix with one old movie theater in a neighborhood not to miss. We left at 7pm.