.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Visiting an Ancient Spanish Monastery — in Florida??

00 Ancient Spanish Monastery (36)

How could an old Spanish Monastery be located in North Miami Beach?  Herein lies the interesting background of this story.  

This Monastery was built between 1133 – 1141 A.D. near Segovia, in Northern Spain.  It became known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. — St. Bernard was a Cistercian monk and influential church leader, and the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux.  Cistercian monks lived in this Monastery for nearly 700 years.  After a social upheaval in the 1830’s, the Monastery’s Cloisters were seized and converted into a granary and stable.

 Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Enter legendary American publisher, William Randolph Hearst (of California’s Hearst Castle fame).  In 1925, Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings (the church was not part …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 18, 2019: A Swirl of Color

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I walked past this scarlet macaw preening itself, and had to stop and enjoy a display of nature’s palette.  Scarlet macaws are amazingly beautiful birds!  In the act of cleaning itself, the bird’s multicolored feathers were moving and beautifully displayed.  I tried to capture some of this brilliance in these images — hopefully with at least an element of success.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos, right arrows to advance)

 

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“Pic of the Week”, October 4, 2019: White Ibis, Florida

01 White Ibis

I’d never seen White Ibis before visiting Florida years ago.  It’s a rather common bird in the Gulf Coast region, extending from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Mexico.  The white ibis prefers living around marshy and swampy ground.  It’s obviously a white bird, with pale facial skin and pink beak and legs.  Apparently the legs turn scarlet during mating season.  Males are larger and have longer bills than females. 

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic insects and fish, including crayfish, although these freeloaders were enjoying a meal provided by Flamingo Gardens.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / North America / South Carolina / Southeastern USA

A Visit to St. Michael’s Church, Charleston

15 St. Michaels, charleston

Sitting prominently on the corner of Broad and Meeting, across from the old Post Office building, St. Michael’s is the oldest church in Charleston.  Today’s church stands on the site of the first Anglican Church built south of Virginia.  It’s a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

In the 1680’s a small wooden church was built on this spot and named St. Philip’s. By 1727 the church had become too small for the growing congregation and a new larger church was built on Church Street, but it was destroyed by fire in 1835 and had to be replaced.

St. Michael’s Church, Charleston

By 1751, St. Philip’s was again too small for its flock so a larger structure — named St. …

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.All Trips / North America / Southeastern USA

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

02 Merritt Island NWR Little Blue Heron (46)

During our last visit to Florida, my father and I drove from our base in Orlando to explore some of Florida’s east coast.  Our destination for the day was the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, not far from Titusville.  

This is a massive preserve, some 140,000 acres (57,000 ha), situated on the same island as the Kennedy Space Center.  Because of its close proximity to the Space Center, there are rare times when NASA restricts access to this National Wildlife Refuge (e.g. when the space shuttle was landing in Florida).

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The topography of the refuge is flat, but still there are a mixture of habitats including saltwater and freshwater marshes, dunes, forests and scrub.  Here …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 21, 2018: The National Christmas Tree, Washington DC

18 National Christmas Tree (1)

I felt lucky to have seen the National Christmas tree beautifully decorated and lite up during a visit to Washington DC.  The National Christmas Tree is situated in President’s Park, right across from the White House.  For almost a century a beautiful tree has been decorated and illuminated at this site and it has become part of the nation’s Christmas tradition.  

The tree contains over 75,000 individual LED bulbs (donated by GE).  It’s lite every day from dusk until about midnight.  The walkway surrounding the National Christmas tree features 56 smaller state and territory trees, each decorated with unique hand-made ornaments.  Musical groups from across the country provide entertainment.  And, like many things in DC, it’s completely free.

Merry Christmas to all!

(Click on …

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.All Trips / D.C. / North America / Southeastern USA / Washington District of Columbia

Korean War Veterans’ Memorial, Washington

04 Korean War Memorial (16)

One of the more unusual and more interesting monuments in Washington DC is the Korean War Memorial.  The Memorial is situated on the National Mall, close to the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool. 

The Korean War started in 1950 with the North Korean Invasion of South Korea.  North Korea was supported by China and the USSR; the United States lead a 21-nation United Nations force to help South Korea.  The war lasted for three years and ended in a tense stalemate which lingers to this day. Hopefully things are finally moving towards a more peaceful Korean peninsula.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of 5.8 million Americans who served during the three-years of the Korean War.  The United …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 5, 2018 : Space Shuttle, “Discovery”

04 Discovery

When the Space Shuttle program was discontinued in the early years of the Obama administration, museums around the world scrambled for the right to receive and exhibit one of the four remaining shuttles.   It seems highly appropriate that one of these unique spacecraft should find its final home at the prestigious Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (located in Virginia, close to Washington Dulles Airport, about a half hour’s drive from downtown DC).  

Situated in a separate wing of the Udvar-Hazy Center with other relics of space travel (including an especially an impressive collection of satellites), the Shuttle is one of the Center’s prized exhibits.  The shuttle Discovery is parked so that you can walk around it …

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