“Pic of the Week”, December 7, 2018: Unbearably Lake Tahoe

05 Lake Tahoe, California (19)

An art form I enjoy, which has seen growing popularity these past few decades, is chainsaw carvings.  As the name implies, the artist uses chainsaws of different size to work a piece of dried raw wood into the final carved piece.  The carvings are often large and heavy.  The wood is then generally stained or painted and sealed with varnish or polyurethane to protect the art.  

While driving around Lake Tahoe this past summer — a beautiful scenic drive that’s highly recommended — we came across several homes on the California side of the lake that had some fine examples of carved bears.  I thought they were quite good and stopped to get some photos.  Not sure if all the ones …

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California / North America / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, July 6, 2018: Flying A Service Station, Truckee

04 Truckee Ca (36)

I’ve previously discussed my visit to the small town of Truckee, which rests on California’s eastern Sierra Nevada slopes and which you can read about at this link.  The town has a nicely preserved historic core, with lots of buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My favorite building in Truckee was this old Flying A Service Station, which brought back memories of many like it I’d see when I was much younger, under a variety of banners like Texaco and Sinclair’s.  Most of these old buildings have been torn down and replaced by large self-serve fueling outlets, each with an attached convenience store.  These new structures may be efficient but they lack the intimacy …

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Truckee, California

01 Truckee Ca (17)

Situated slightly north of Lake Tahoe and a little west of Reno, I’d driven past this small city on route I-80 many times.  But it was not until this past summer that I actually stopped and explored it.  The day of our visit was dry and hot and the sun intense as it can only be at high altitude, the heat draining our energy; still, we took our time, stayed hydrated and enjoyed visiting Truckee.

The town’s original name was Coburn Station, after one of its saloon keepers.  It was renamed ‘Truckee’ after a Paiute chief named Tru-ki-zo. This friendly chief greeted the first Europeans migrating to California and legend has it that he rode toward them yelling, “Tro-kay”,  Paiute for …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 22, 2018: Views of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, California (1)

Lovely Lake Tahoe!  It has been described as the “gem of the Sierras” and it’s hard to argue with that.

Its statistics are impressive.  Lake Tahoe is situated in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at 6,225 ft (1,897 m) and straddles the California/Nevada border.  At 1,645 ft (501 m) deep, it is the second deepest lake in the United States  — only Crater Lake in Oregon is deeper at 1,945 ft (593 m).  It holds more water than any lake in the US, excluding the five Great Lakes.

And the scenery is spectacular.  As are the hiking opportunities around the lake!

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

 

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“Pic of the Week”, February 23, 2017: Western Gorillas

San Diego Zoo Safari (121)

While gorillas are the largest of the great apes, the western (lowland) gorillas are the smallest and least endangered of this subspecies.  Native to the Congo River Basin, they live in lowland tropical and swamp forests.  They are quiet, peaceful animals whose existence is threatened by deforestation and poaching.

Male gorillas are up to 1.55 meters tall and weigh up to 157 kg; females are 1.35 meters and weigh up to 80 kg.  They  are mainly herbivores, feasting on leaves and fruit but occasionally eating ants, worms and caterpillars.  Western gorillas are nomadic, wandering in groups of up to 30 individuals in search of food.  Each band is lead by a dominant “silverback” male ( so called because of a silver …

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Back at the Getty Center, Los Angeles

Getty Center Museum 11-2016 (7a)

When I have free time while traveling in greater Los Angeles, I love to visit the Getty Center — well worth a full day’s visit, especially if you’ve never been there before.  There’s no admission fee but you have to pay $15.00 to park for the day (so if you’re dropped off by a friend, the entire day would be a freebie).   There’s a large parking structure adjoining the 405 Fwy in Sepulveda Pass and from here visitors takes a tram uphill to the Getty Center.  The tram/funicular ride takes just a few minutes and when you exit you enter a beautifully crafted world of art and architecture.   I enjoy walking the meticulously maintained grounds and taking in the ever …

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The Griffith Observatory: Los Angeles’ Art Deco Treasure

01 Griffith Observatory

One of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, which is situated on a hill (in massive Griffith Park) overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Designed to be an observatory of the planets and stars, it’s a beautiful Art Deco structure that houses space and science exhibitions and has a great planetarium. 

While smog obscures the views from the Observatory most of the time, the place is especially memorable for its great views on a clear day like the one I had the

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The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park

desert

Unless you’ve driven across them, it’s hard to comprehend how vast the deserts of the American Southwest are.  While at first glance the region seems nearly lifeless, it’s rich in a diverse variety of hardy plant and animal life.  An excellent way to see this assortment of desert life is to stop everywhere and explore.  A much easier and more convenient way is to visit a botanical garden which, while not a perfect experience, is highly educational.  A place I’d recommend is the Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, California (very near Palm Springs), which provides a one-stop chance to explore the flora and fauna of America’s deserts –with an African sampler to boot!

Giraffes, Living Desert Museum

The Living Desert occupies …

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