Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Benvenuto a Venezia

The snaking canals of Venice lead into the turquoise water of the surrounding lagoon. The waterfront residences and restaurants line the intersecting arterial canals. With each canal comes a new discovery and historic building. The glorious Grand Canal is best seen by motor boat, but many choose the timeless elegance of the gondola. Try speeding down the canal with windswept hair, sun bathed skin, and cool saltwater misting over the bow the next time you are in Venezia. The private boat ride is well worth the euros!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Capitol Tulips

Monolithic edifices dominate Washington, but during Spring, pastel-colored foliage brighten the city. The rich hues of new growth symbolize the hope we all have for our nation. Let freedom ring!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Poppy Patch

This "Golden State" may have become famous for the gold rush of the late 1840s, but the California countryside was golden long before James Marshall found gold in the river at Sutter's mill in January 1848. California attained statehood September 9, 1850 when President Fillmore signed the bill granting California's admission to the Union. The Golden State became an economic engine fueled by mining, farming, cattle, business, service industries, and enterprising individuals who saw opportunity and grasped it. Mineral gold may be behind the "Golden State" moniker, but the glorious glimmering California Poppies marked California's vistas centuries before the Forty-niners disembarked ships that traveled around Cape Horn, transcontinental transits from the East Coast of the United States, and from countless countries worldwide to find gold. The California Poppy, or Eschscholzia californica, is a golden flower that rises individually from a singular stalk and blossoms fan-like golden blooms in April annually. In 1903 the California Poppy became the state flower.

Orange Bug Glow

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ornate Balboa

Gemstones are not formed over night and neither was the jewel of San Diego, Balboa Park. In 1868, a 1,400-acre mesa elevated above Downtown San Diego ("New Town" at the time) was set aside for public use as a park and recreation area. Starting in 1892, San Diego City planners traded 32 acres of park-land to Kate Sessions in return for 100 planted trees annually. This action is one of the reasons that Balboa Park today is lush in the arid climate of Southern California. The first master plan was established in 1903 and construction commenced for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. The Exposition was held to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, an extreme engineering feat, even by today's standards. Many buildings were fabricated for this festival and were designed with great Spanish influence. The area surrounding the Botanical Building and the lily pond is one of the best spots in all of Balboa Park. Today El Prado, the main entrance into Balboa Park, looks much like it did in 1915. Spreckels Pavilion, the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, was built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. The organ contains over 4,510 pipes in 73 ranks. The Spreckels Organ Society holds free Sunday afternoon concerts and puts on the Summer Organ Festival, a free concert every Monday during the summer months. To boost the local economy during the depression, the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition was held in Balboa Park. More buildings were erected in other locations throughout the park. Balboa Park evolved from an elevated bluff to a city-center filled with museums (Photographic Arts, History, Air & Space, Automotive, Sports, Railroad, Museum of Man, and Veterans), performing arts centers (Old Globe, Civic Youth Ballet, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Junior Theatre, and Hitchcock Puppet Theater), and gardens (Lily Pond, Botanical Building, Parker Memorial Rose Garden, Old Cactus Garden, Palm Canyon, Zoro Garden, Floral Association, and Bay Fig Tree). In 2009, Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre jewel of San Diego, 141 years in the making. Please visit History of Balboa Park. for a detailed history of the park from inception to present-day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Capitol Moonrise

The sun fell in the afternoon sky and Thomas Crawford's Statue of Freedom watched the moon rise high above the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The 15,000-pound, 19'6" tall Statue of Freedom stands watch over the nation's capital from her 288-foot perch. Despite the bitter cold (with windchill that would send most San Diegans scrambling for cover), the city was awash with a warm glow. More on the Statue of Freedom from the Architect of the Capitol.