Category Archives: Travel

New York, New York (Pictures Day 23)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular! Then we went to Yankee Stadium for a game. We got lucky and saw Alex Rodriguez’s final game & a huge thunderstorm. Day Five was “museum day,” starting with the Guggenheim.


On the lower levels of the Guggenheim as I wound my way down we got into the more “traditional” classic paintings.

Paul Cezanne, “Bibemus” – I absolutely love that one bright blue dot just to the right above center.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “La femme a la perruche”

Edouard Manet, “Devant la glace” – all these dudes loved painting women, which is great!

Edgar Degas, “Danseuses vertes et jaunes”

Claude Monet, “Le Palais Ducal vu de Saint-Georges Majeur”

Pablo Picasso, “Le homard et le chat” – there were multiple pieces by most of these classical Masters, but this one by Picasso still cracks me up every time I see it. “Lobster and Cat”? Aside from the unique and amazing style, the concept and the expression on the cat’s face are just hilarious.

(Click to enlarge to full size)

No one was really dressed up for their visit, which was absolutely fine! Outside it was in the 90’s with 90+% humidity the whole time we were there.

Who knew that these guys had first names? I thought it was just “Monet,” “Degas,” and “Renoir.” Just like it’s “Elvis,” “Tiger,” and “Pele.” All so unique that they only needed one name.

One last look at the ultimate piece of art at the Guggenheim, the amazing architectural wonder created by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Another place I could have spent all day and then come back for more a hundred times. But, this being my first trip, if it’s Sunday we have a dozen more things to do, so that will have to wait until the next trip. Oooh, what’s that, another museum down there? Why yes, yes it is! Let’s start swimming through the heat and humidity down 5th Avenue!

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 22)

FaceBook, for all of its faults and horrors (of which there are many), does do a good job of reminding you of big events on the anniversary of those dates. This week’s it’s been telling me every day that it was five years ago that we were in New York City for the first time. Which, of course, has triggered all of my recovering Catholic guilt and Calvinistic-style Puritan work ethic about one of the larger hanging chads from this site – the “New York, New York” series of photos and narrative from that trip.

On October 23, 2019 I wrote for “New York, New York (Pictures Day 19)”:

When last we left our plucky heroes…

For those of you who are relatively new to this site, in the “old days” I used to post a lot of long, multi-part posts with pictures from various trips. (Use that “search” box over there to look for “Shanghai,” “Seoul,” or “Kyoto,” or look through everything in the “Travel” category.)

Over two years ago things got very busy in the “life” category and the travel series I was in the middle of (one of my favorites because the trip was so great and I had SO much fun on it) was showing off my first trip to New York City. Part #16 was posted on 18-May-2017, part #17 on 11-Jul-2017, and then part #18 didn’t post until 01-Jan-2018. Part #19…never got posted until today.

Let’s see if we can get back to resuming some of those earlier collections of posts. I enjoyed them.

I got part #20 posted in November 2019, then #21 in December 2019, then… Well, back into the void for another nineteen or twenty months. (It seems there was something going on and tying up my time and attention for the last nineteen months, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.) Anyway, now that I’ve got FaceBook harassing me as well (so to speak) and those posts are triggering all of the memories… As Arlo Guthrie said (more or less), “This time with feeling and four-part harmony!”


In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular! Then we went to Yankee Stadium for a game. We got lucky and saw Alex Rodriguez’s final game & a huge thunderstorm.


Day Five was museum day for us. A quick cab ride down 5th Avenue alongside Central Park brought us to the Guggenheim.

The iconic shape was there, but frankly it seemed smaller than I expected. If I should have learned anything it to not judge a book by its cover.

It’s a magical place, and not just because it seems so much bigger on the inside.

This time we rode the elevator to the top and I walked my way down. Next time I’ll try it the other way.

Levels 4 and 5 had an exhibit called “But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Africa.” With today’s headlines it seems to continue to be relevant. The piece shown above is called “Flying Carpets” by Nadia Kaabi-Linke. I found it simple but so fascinating. As the air currents in the room moved the pieces about gently the views through the bars were extremely complex and rhythmic.

In addition, the shadows on the walls had their own patterns and rhythms. The piece was inspired by the illegal street vendors from Africa and Asia who sell their wares in Il Ponte del Sepolcro in Venice. They must be prepared to gather up their wares and flee at a moment’s notice, seeking safety in both a literal, physical sense, but also in a more metaphorical sense.

“Study for a Monument” by Abbas Akhavan is built from bronze casts of plants in Mesopotamia, symbolically burnt, charred, and fragmented by war in the region for thousands of years. The placement of the casts on the linen sheets on the floor reference the way bodies are displayed in makeshift funerals after disasters or military or terrorist attacks.

From Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige this 2015 work is called “Latent Images, Diary of a Photographer, 177 Days of Performances.” It looks at the use of archiving and documentation for historical narratives, in this case concerning the Lebanese Civil Wars from 1997 to 2006.

Each book contains rolls of undeveloped film. While we don’t see the visual content contained on the rolls, each book has extensive detailed notes describing each photo contained but hidden.

This piece from Kader Attia, “Untitled (Ghardaia),” is a scale model of the Algerian city, sculped in couscous. The portraits are of architects Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, who used the Mozabite architecture native to Ghardaia without ever acknowledging the source of their inspiration. Also present is a copy of a UNESCO certificate designating Ghardaia a World Heritage Site.

Given my art background at UC Irvine, I loved all of these for their unique characteristics. Next, on the lower levels, the more traditional collection of paintings.

 

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Las Vegas Strip Panorama

Was it already three weeks ago?

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Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part Three Of Three

About two weeks ago we spent a couple of days in Palm Springs and we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto. Once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail – I had thought that I was going on a 15-30 minute quick day hike (which would have been the Nature Loop) but instead took the longer, more difficult loop. After about 40-45 minutes I had made it to the top of the ridge overlooking the Coachella Valley and the first four of five “notches.”

Finally headed more or less down hill after Notch Four, but still on a rocky trail with some slightly tricky footing.

The rock formations up here were wonderful to look at and roam through. Proof here that a little bit of a crack, a little bit of water, and a little bit of freezing can bust open the biggest boulder.

More rocks and trees and fallen trees.

Finally the path starts to level off, widen, and get less rocky. Much easier walking.

Notch Five, the last of them, with the haze moving in and the clouds lowering.

Down in the flats at the north end of Long Valley.

Now I just had to get back to the ranger station at the bottom of the ramp from the upper terminal of the aerial tram…

…and then up that ramp. At least the rocks and trees were always wonderful and relaxing to look at.

And I’m back at the upper terminal. The approximately 300 feet gain in elevation going up the ramp wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

Of course, I also had the sense this day (FINALLY!) to stop about a dozen times to catch my breath.

Every time I stopped, rotten little ten-year-olds skipped and ran up past me, taunting me. It’s okay, just wait fifty-five years and see if they’re still skipping and running. Little monsters…

If you’re up for a moderate day hike and in the Palm Springs area, this one’s pretty nice. I took just under two hours to do just over two miles total, but it wasn’t a race and I had a great time!

Didn’t even get sunburned! (Wore a hat, it was cloudy, and I had sunscreen.)

Remember to bring water!

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Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part Two Of Three

About two weeks ago we spent a couple of days in Palm Springs and we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto. Once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail – I had thought that I was going on a 15-30 minute quick day hike (which would have been the Nature Loop) but instead took the longer, more difficult loop.

A bit more climbing after leaving Notch One. To show how unprepared I was, I didn’t even know how many “notches” there were. (Five.) I figured there would be spots to view the desert below (thus the “Desert View Trail” nomenclature, DUH!) but didn’t have any details. Ignorance is bliss and I was VERY blissful that day.

Notch Two looks back toward Palm Springs, visible between the trees. (Click to enlarge.)

Right next to Notch Two, just looking off more to the north, is Notch Three.

From here the trail has little ups and downs but is generally level-ish, but still a bit narrow and rocky.

I ran into a few folks doing the loop trail the other direction. (There isn’t a right or wrong way.) A few, particularly those with grade school aged kids, were wondering how much further they had to go to the top. I gave them what information I had. Inevitably, the kids always wanted to go on to the top, having no clue about what I was describing as far as their trail ahead and having endless energy to proceed. The parents were more skeptical, but all pressed on. (Been there – done that!)

Notch Four had the best views, looking north through the haze.

There were also places that weren’t “official” notches, but still had great views.

Along the little ridge tops there were always fallen trees and many that were split, perhaps by lightning. I remember enough of my Boy Scout days to know that if I heard thunder or saw lightning I would be putting it into gear to get off the ridge tops.

I also loved looking at these skeletal remains of these scraggly pines. (Bristlecone pines?) At this elevation, in an area that doesn’t get much rain, trying to grab a spot in the rock cracks, this isn’t a very friendly environment. It did its best, but I think it’s lost this fight.

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Mt San Jacinto State Park – Part One Of Three

I took a few minutes to start sorting through the pictures from the anniversary trip two weeks ago. I’ve mentioned that we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt San Jacinto and once there I took a couple hours to hike the Desert View Trail.

From the upper terminal of the tram, you descend about 180 feet in elevation down a twisting, paved path.

At the bottom you find yourself in Long Valley.

Unlike the desert floor in Palm Springs, over a mile in elevation behind you, up here there’s a pine forest.

It’s a state wilderness park, so some of the trees are down and left that way, naturally.

After a flat and easy quarter-mile hike, the trail starts to get slightly more difficult, getting rockier, narrower, and rising a bit.

Stay on the trails! Not that you could get too lost up here (there are a fair number of other hikers) but because we want to preserve the wilderness areas.

The textures, the details, the sights are everywhere.

The trees are really tall and spectacular.

After going back up about 200 feet in elevation, you get to Notch One, where you can look down onto the desert valley floor below you.

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Where Does The Time Go?

It’s 23:55 and I’m still trying to hit deadlines…

Have a picture from Lost Wages.

Bellagio on the left (where we stayed on a previous trip), Caesar’s Palace (where we were staying this time) on the right.

Stories good and bad about both – but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Maybe.

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Complex Textures

High level perspective – a bit of worn and extremely weathered log from the Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Closer perspective – an almost infinitely complex, fractal-like surface formed by strictly random, natural forces.

Alternate perspective – part of the biological cycles of an infinitesimally small speck of a planet, third rock from the primary star in a semi-deserted, backwater part of a completely average galaxy, one of a few million billion trillion completely average galaxies, returning nutrients assembled together over a century or more back to the soil and the next generation of plants and critters.

Private perspective – stunning beauty “hidden” in the world around us, “hidden” only by the fact that 99.99% of my fellow hikers walking by don’t even bother to look, let alone see.

Personal perspective – getting this wrapped up in grokking a rotting log, using all five senses, and then feeling the imperative to share with everyone probably indicates to most that there was (or is) “mood enhancing” medicinal self-medication involved. Nope, just a natural high, that John Denver school of zen, getting in touch with the Universe on a very personal and intimate level.

Or it was oxygen deprivation from being at 8,500 feet.

Either way, it was the finest kind.

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The View From The Station At The Top

Riding up the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to the station at the top of the ridge near Mount San Jacinto Peak (the Peak itself is only reachable by a steep hike of several miles and 745 meters/2445 feet elevation gain), this is the panoramic view you get looking off the balcony and into the back country.

(Clickety click on the image to see it full sized)

The Peak at 3300 meters / 10834 feet is off to the right, behind those rocks and trees.

You can see several stretches and switchbacks on the ramp that winds down to the Ranger Station in Long Valley. The website says it’s about 100 feet in elevation, but I found a topographic map that says it’s about 55 meters, which is about 180 feet. That sounds like a much more reasonable figure to me.

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Staying Ahead

Staying ahead of the aircraft – it’s a mantra when learning to fly. Flying with just one pilot, no copilot, something’s always happening or about to happen and to be safe you always want to be anticipating what’s next and being ready for it. Don’t react to what the plane’s doing, or the weather, or upcoming radio calls or course changes. Stay ahead of the aircraft.

Same thing in daily living is a good plan of attack. Whether it’s at the office, going hiking, going on a trip, or anything else. Stay ahead of the…whatever. Be proactive, not reactive.

That transition from “vacation” back to “normal” has had its challenges these last three days. My main feeling, particularly at work, is that I’m reactive, discombobulated. I need to get back to being proactive and recombobulated.

So, tomorrow. Work smarter, not harder.

Kick ass, take names.

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

Use your clichés, they’re your friends.

And don’t jump unless you’ve got a parachute or a honkin’ big cable attached to your back. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.

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