“Pic of the Week”, March 16, 2018: Descent into Las Vegas

00 Las Vegas Descent

One of my favorite places to enjoy the views from a window seat is when flying over the beautiful desert scenery of Utah and Nevada.  Recently while on approach and descending into Las Vegas McCarran Airport, just before sunset, I enjoyed some beautiful scenes of the Mojave Desert.  Colorful shades of red, tan and brown, ending with the now filled reservoir that is Lake Mead.  And ending with views of the Las Vegas Strip as our plane was about to land.

The last few minutes of I flight I found most memorable.

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“Pic of the Week”, March 2, 2018: School of Fish, Sparks, Nevada

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One of our stops during a recent visit to the Reno area was the Outlets at Sparks.   The store selection and shopping experience left a bit to be desired, but there were some clever pieces of public art including this one, which I really liked.  Anyone who’s ever watched a school of sardines swim know how the individual fish merge into a collective organism, and that idea was brilliantly captured in this piece.

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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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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

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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.All Trips / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

St. Mary’s in the Mountain, Virginia City, Nevada

‘s in the Mountains

Virginia City is an interesting destination, being one of the best preserved “Wild West” towns I’ve ever visited.  Once a prosperous mining city, it was one of the largest communities in northwestern Nevada during the late 19th century.  Thousands of people flocked here when silver and gold were discovered in the Comstock, including many Irish Catholic immigrants.  Those of you who remember the popular television series, Bonanza, will remember that the Cartwrights frequently visited Virginia City to conduct their business.  They were not alone, as Virginia City provided services to local miners, ranchers and timber men. There’s lots to see in this old town, still a center of commerce but now catering mostly to tourists rather than locals.

I thought the …

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.All Trips / Car Culture / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

Cruise Night, Carson City

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I spotted this collection of classic cars while recently visiting the Reno area. We were driving down the main road in Carson City (S. Carson St) when we saw dozens of beautiful cars in this lot and, of course, had to turn off and see what was going on.

Turns out this was the weekly Cruise Night gathering of a local car club. I’d long known that the favorable climate of Nevada helped prevent the deterioration of cars and that certainly was on display.

There were lots of beautiful cars and many people stopped to study and enjoy them. Here’s a part of what we saw that day:

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

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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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

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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