Joshua Tree National Park – Save the parks

I cut my teeth photographing Joshua Tree National Park with my first medium format Hasselblad somewhere around 2000.  Looking back the photos I was so proud of at the time have a lot of flaws.  But, my memories are some of the best I have ever had photographing a National park or the outdoors in general.  I fell in love with this park and its unusual and amazingly distinct Joshua Trees.  It breaks my heart to see that the park has been shut down due to politics.  And it is even worse to read reports of damage to the park’s treasured and protected Joshua Trees.  I am disappointed in the people who would do such damage to a park and it’s innocent trees.  And I am disappointed in our government for not doing what it has been charged to do.  It is up to us individually to make good decisions and protect our treasures.  Do no harm, Leave no trace behind and take care of our parks, P.L.E.A.S.E.

For the love of Trees

Wide Open Walls 916 -Sacramento State

I stopped by CSU Sacramento for a visit to another Wide Open Walls Street Art piece.

I’ve seen photos of this one all over social media and finally made it for a visit! It’s pretty iconic for the city, the wide open walls project, and the university.

It seems to me that this wide open walls project has really brought a vibrancy to the downtown area that has re-energized some otherwise boring or run down buildings. It has also given artists the opportunity to show off their skills like this bright and cheerful example. I continue to stumble upon these hidden gems and hope to keep bringing you more.

Enjoy!

The Tale of Two Sacramento Houses

Sacramento, particularly downtown, is full of beautiful old houses.  Featured here are two completely different examples.  The Leland Stanford Mansion and the Curtis Park Dragon House couldn’t be more different.

The Dragon House is a labor of mosaic love by owners who clearly take pride in eccentricity versus the Leland Stanford Mansion, a bastion of the old guard of Victorian Sacramento.  I would venture to guess I wouldn’t be able to give away the Dragon House to some of my friends and family but somehow I find it more interesting than the pure and perfect architecture of the Stanford mansion.

The Stanford mansion, recently rehabilitated, is full of history and Victorian pomp and circumstance and stands as a magnificent example of the time.  It is a well known Sacramento icon which represents the city and even the State for official functions and is a state park during other times.  The mosaic Dragon House is a private bungalow with no official public history, at least not yet.  Yet, when I ask around about it locals all know what and where it is.  It’s more of an unknown Sacramento gem.

Which do you prefer?!

*Happy New Year Everyone!  I hope 2019 brings all of you safe, peaceful, and memorable travels!

Effie Yeaw Nature Center

The Effie Yeaw Nature Center, located in Ancil Hoffman Park in Sacramento, has been around as long as I have…longer actually. It’s a small but mighty little center which helps preserve natural area, promote Indian heritage, and protect and aid local sick or injured animals. The center’s highlights were certainly the two beautiful owls lovingly cared for by staff.

The park sits on a glorious part of the American River Parkway which my young son greatly enjoyed. Once he threw what seemed like every river rock back in to the river he insisted we make a second visit to the owls again before we left! That’s a success if you ask me!! img_1175

Indian Grinding Stone

Meet Echo

img_1092img_1097

Quarry Park – Rocklin, California

Quarry Park in Rocklin, California has changed immensely over the last few years.  What used to be an abandoned quarry filled with water and whatever else fell in there and a barren field full of rattlesnakes and poison oak is now a delightful local park and adjacent adventure park.  Locals can enjoy summer concerts, a lovely short walk around the quarry, a climb on the children’s playset and train or for the more adventurous they can climb or zipline next door.  I love this park and think what they have done with it is genius other than it still seems weird to be placed right in the middle of the city government.

 

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden has been on my local list of attractions for a while.  I can’t say why I haven’t gone before but I haven’t.  And after visiting today looking for some fall colors I certainly regret not having gone sooner.  I can say the Arboretum and gardens were not at all what I expected…in a good way.  I expected just a large park with some glorious old trees and a place for my son to run around reasonably free.  Instead, I found a lovely meandering creek called the Putah Creek lovingly surrounded by well maintained gardens and walking bridges.  Visitors can walk the entire thing or sections and can follow both sides of the creek.  They will be joined by runners, students, local residents, gossiping women, and visitors like me.

It is hard to be unhappy in a place like this even with heavy smoke in the air from the Butte Fire raging a small distance away.  Several distinct gardens keep one’s interest while they get their steps in.  Acacia gardens, redwood gardens, desert gardens, and plants and trees from China were the highlights.  Ducks followed us everywhere we went.  This perfect little park is a quiet oasis placed smack in the middle of one of California’s premier Universities.

Wide Open Walls 916 Sacramento-Del Paso

Over the summer a really exciting street art event (Wide Open Walls 916) came to Sacramento which painted the walls…literally. It took a seemingly benign wall or building and turned it in to something amazing. I posted previously on some great selections from the event located in downtown Sacramento. I was so impressed I decided to head to another area of town which was of focus for the event which I had not had time to visit previously – Del Paso. I was most looking forward to seeing the the rainbow colored installation directly below because I was drawn to the bright and cheerful colors. I was underwhelmed to say the least not by the art but by the building and it’s surroundings. This is a classic example of the reality of what surrounds a photo. I’m sure the artist is less than thrilled with what became of his piece. The overall environment left a little to be desired and so did the art but I thought I would share for the fun of it. I still can’t wait for the event to come back again next year…

Anyone else ever visited a location that turned out to be something other than they expected or became run down after the initial blush?

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Golden Gate Park is full of surprises and pleasant escapes from the rest of the City. It is certainly up for “Best Park in America” if you ask me which no one ever does…

I digress. One of the many treats in Golden Gate Park is the Conservatory of Flowers.  It was like a trip back to Victorian times only more humid.

And where better to try out my new iPhone XS?  The portrait feature is a lot of fun providing some fake depth of field by blurring out the background of your subject. The phone is particularly better taking photos in high and low light compared to previous versions. (Thank you Apple for finally improving that.) Some of the filters are comically bad from a real photography perspective but they are fun from a, well, fun perspective.  Bottom line, the phone takes a much much clearer photo than before which I appreciate considering the obscene price.

It’s the City by the Bay.  The City that Rocks.  The City that Never Sleeps. We Built this City on Rock and Roll!  ~Jefferson Starship, We Built This City

Click here for other Golden Gate Park posts which will make you want to visit immediatly!

Check out my other posts on San Francisco here!

Aerospace Museum of California-Sacramento

“I feel the need…the need for speed!” ~Top Gun

The little one and I recently survived our first airplane flight to visit family in Arizona. (Delays going and delays coming and a bomb threat but we made it).  I digress, but now he knows what an airplane is and even knows the sign for one.  I figured it was a good time to take him to the Aerospace Museum of California located at McClellan Park in Sacramento, formerly McClellan Air Force Base.  The museum has an interesting collection of all sorts of airplanes, helicopters and engines of all vintages.  They are focued on educating young folks and getting them interested in flight.  My favorite highlight was seeing the flight simulator room created for the purposes of teaching kids STEM.  Well, that and watching my baby pretend to fly the planes.  (See photo below of him in the small white airplane cockpit.)  He very much enjoyed climbing on the airplanes and helicopters which were opened graciously to the public.  The idea of him flying one of these things in the future is something I can’t even fathom…

California State Indian Museum

In the shadow of Sutter’s Fort sits the small but lovely California State Indian Museum.  The museum was created in 1940 and tells the story of many of the Indian tribes of California.  It highlights more than 60 indigenous groups who lived in our great state long before Mr. Sutter brought his Fort to the area and long before the Gold Rush encouraged waves of people to come out West.

Highlights of the museum are an impressive grouping of baskets, an 18 foot Yurok Redwood Canoe, a large number of beautiful photographs of Indigenous peoples in native outfits during dances or traditional activities, and detailed handmade clothing.

The relationship between California and the local Indian tribes has been a complicated one over time.  Disease brought by Europeans, forced movement, slaughter, and destruction of the local environment have changed the face of indigenous people forever.  This museum tells the story of California Indian heritage through physical items, clothing, photographs, landscaping, local events, and music and dance. It is a lovely reminder of the pride and history of the first Californians.  I only wish the museum were bigger and housed even more beautiful artifacts because I know there is much more to see.

img_9766

Rattlesnake!

img_9765

Take note of the feathers weaved in to the spectacular smaller baskets.

img_9767

This thing is HUGE and must weigh an enormous amount.

img_9769

Not sure what these berries are. I can’t say I ever remember seeing them in the area but they were beautiful.