Architecture as a Photographic Subject

Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I was well acquainted with the name Frank Lloyd Wright at an early age. I lovingly blame my father for my interest in design and architecture.

Mission San Xavier, Tucson, Arizona

Mission San Xavier, Tucson, Arizona

My dad worked in the trades in the city (Chicago) and it wasn’t uncommon for me to see blueprints scattered across our dining room table. Although it would take me years to develop his eye and talent, it was a goal I embraced wholeheartedly.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Michigan

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

I was very fortunate to have worked in an industry that I was passionate about, and just because I no longer work in the housing industry does not mean that I’ve lost my interest in architecture … to the contrary.

Travel has only piqued my interest in architecture further, and I love seeking out unique structures.

Loretto Chapel Santa Fe New Mexico

Loretto Chapel and the miraculous staircase, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photo challenge – theme – prompt

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of architecture. Show us one of your favorite buildings or structures. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

After going through all my photographs, I realized I don’t have any images of Prairie Style architecture. Although I’ve studied and toured prairie style homes and visited several Frank Lloyd Wright historical sites in the past, I don’t seem to have any photographs in my archives. Hmm, perhaps this winter, I should visit Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona 😏

St. Louis Cathedral New Orleans Louisiana

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps this will help inspire you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!

San Xavier Mission Tucson Arizona

Next weeks photo prompt?

I’ll be taking a short break from these photo challenges for the next couple of weeks, but promise I’ll be back. In the meantime, I’ll be working on some photo prompt ideas and going through my external hard-drives for images. If you have any photo theme ideas, please let me know in the comments. I love brainstorming!

Chicago architecture

Ten years ago, I enjoyed taking my son on a walking tour of Chicago. The city offers a wonderful blend of old and new architecture . It was a great day exploring the big city.

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Flexibility is key

I’ve discovered that there’s a major difference between going on vacation versus living a mobile lifestyle.  A vacation has a definitive beginning and ending with very little to no flexibility.  A mobile lifestyle offers oodles of flexibility.

"Life is a beautiful ride" I enjoyed window shopping at La Canterra

“Life is a beautiful ride” I enjoyed window shopping at La Cantera

As a matter of fact, flexibility is key to enjoying this full-time RVing lifestyle.  After all, we’re pulling/driving our home full-time and arriving to our next destination safely and fully intact is always the goal.  With that said, a key component to a long travel day is the weather.  The ability to change travel plans on a whim based on the weather is wonderful.

Al and I had allowed ourselves fourteen days to travel the 1,165 miles (1,872km) from Rockport, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona.  That gave us the flexibility to roll with the weather, as well as give us options; get to Phoenix a week early, or take our time Rockport egretmeandering along the way, or extend our stay in Rockport, which we seriously thought about – considering I wasn’t quite ready to bid farewell to the scenery OR the birds.

But that weather…. winter weather at that, made the decision for us.  We hit the road while good road conditions prevailed.  Plus, we usually prefer driving through major cities on a Saturday or Sunday.  Sunday morning (January 31st) had us navigating through San Antonio, Texas toward the northwest part of town without issue.  We settled into the Elk’s Lodge for what we thought would be a quick overnight stay.

That evening, we easily made a change of plans while reviewing the weather and road conditions for Interstate 10.  High wind warnings accompanied by brown out conditions (blowing dirt) followed by freezing rain along Interstate 10 in west Texas and New Mexico had us hanging out in San Antonio for an extra night, then two.

Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

Ah, what’s a gal to do parked in a less than scenic parking lot without a vehicle at her disposal?  How about visit the Shops at La Canteraneighboring mall for a little retail therapy and architectural photography?  The Shops at La Cantera did not disappoint.

The weather was gorgeous which allowed me to hike this beautiful outdoor mall a couple of times.  While strolling the mall, I enjoyed the window shopping, the trickling sounds of water features, and the fragrant smell of all the lush vegetation. Shops at La Cantera

Although the mall had all the usual stores, the architecture was anything but boring.  There was a unique feel – a combination of new, yet old.  I think it was the blending of materials and angles that attracted my attention.  One minute I was walking on concrete, then the next I was moseying across cobblestone pavers, then it was on to ceramic tile, or stone, or slate…. and that’s what was happening just under my feet.Shops at La Cantera

Overhead was another visual delight; a combination of canopies, overhangs, or open blue sky adding another layer of ambiance.  Each store front had its own special detail, wall color, and finish.  Some of the stone used throughout the outdoor mall had a resemblance to that of the Alamo.shops at la canteraI must admit, for a split second I felt a little guilty about being in San Antonio and spending all my time at the Shops at La Cantera.  This city offers so many fabulous things to see and do, but since we weren’t unhooking the truck from the 5th wheel, driving anywhere was not an option.  Plus, during shops at la canteraprevious visits to San Antonio, we’d already visited the River Walk, Alamo, and Missions.

The Shops at La Cantera is a rather large mall, which allowed me to get in plenty of exercise, but lead to working up an appetite.  The day before departure, I retrieved hubby, and we were off to visit Penny at the Cheesecake Factory.  Their large size entrees are perfect for taking half the meal home providing lunch on the road the following day.  Yum!

Our flexible schedule allowed us to avert inclement weather, and extend our stay in San Antonio.  The delay was indeed pleasurable and I might have even pulled out of town with a few new items in my already full closet, but I’m not admitting anything  😉Shops at La Cantera

With blue skies and dry roads, we were on the road again.  And for anyone who has ever driven across Texas knows, it goes on for what seems forever.  We try to avoid staying in Van Horn, Texas, but we were on a mission to head west as quickly as san antoniopossible in an attempt to avoid the next wave of weather expected to hit this part of the country.

It was a 6-7 hour travel day between San Antonio and Van Horn, Texas (431 miles or 694 km).  We found a less than memorable campground to overnight in since the Walmart is out of the question.  Yep, no overnighting at the Walmart allowed in this town.  Van Horn? –  you know the saying, “if you can’t say anything nice……..”.

The next morning, we along with the rest of the RV’s were quick to exit Van Horn.  We made it through El Paso and into New Mexico and I was hugging rocks by early afternoon ……

Adios Texas - until we meet again!

Adios Texas – until we meet again!

 

That’s a wrap!

There’s a major up side to returning to familiar territory.  I think we can all relate; we go on vacation to some new and exciting place and have such a wonderful time that we can’t wait to return again and again and again.  And although that may mean we’re not exploring other exciting destinations, that doesn’t mean new discoveries aren’t made.Rockport Texas

To me, it’s kind of like watching a movie for the second or third time.  Character lines are heard that may have missed the first go around, or there’s a better understanding of a plot.  I feel, some movies are actually better the second time around.

I think the same can be said about traveling to a familiar place.  This was our third January spent in the Rockport, Texas, area and our best visit yet.  I’ll be the first to admit, this is a place I probably wouldn’t recommend to most folks unless one’s interests are either birding, photography, or sportsman activities (fishing/hunting).  Considering Al and I enjoy that stuff, it works perfectly for us.Rockport

For those more interested in beaches, quaint shops, and plenty of dining options; Port Aransas on Mustang Island is the place to go.  I even found myself visiting the island three times during the month of January exploring some of my favorite places.

Mustang Island and the Corpus Christi area hold special memories for Al and me individually.  During Al’s Navy days, he was stationed in Corpus Christi and the aircraft carrier he was trained to land a plane on has now been turned into a museum.  My memories center around my parents and their RVing days.  It was not uncommon for the kids and me to visit my parents during their winter sojourn to Mustang Island.  Fond memories, indeed.Rockport Fulton Texas

Back to Rockport – Fulton and my new discoveries … these two quaint Texas coastal communities offer plenty of options to keep me entertained (in addition to my birding, that is).  After a two-year renovation, the Fulton Mansion was once again open to the public and at the top of my list to visit.  This 1870’s French inspired home has been beautifully restored. (click on any photo to enlarge into a slide show)

 

I found the self-guided tour of the mansion interesting as I was transported back in time.  One of the rooms on the second floor was left as original as possible showcasing damaged lath and plaster walls.  Parts of the ceiling and flooring were also left exposed to share some unique materials used in the construction.  I never would’ve thought to use sand and seashells as insulation between floors.  My Real Estate background had me reading each word displayed regarding ownership of the property and the prices each party paid.  Back in the 1960’s the front yard was actually an RV park and all the historical photos were extremely entertaining.

Touring the grounds alone is also worthwhile with its wind swept Oak Trees, manicured garden, and serene ocean view.Rockport Texas

There was more history for me to discover in downtown Rockport.  Since I didn’t have anything to shop for, I strolled the main street looking for things to photograph.  Architectural photography remains a challenge for me, so I’m always looking for opportunities to practice.

Shopping in Rockport, Texas - quaint, unique shops and interesting structures

Shopping in Rockport, Texas – quaint, unique shops and interesting structures

No shortage here of things to photograph as all the buildings are unique and one of a kind.  And just because I didn’t have any knickknacks to shop for doesn’t mean this former shopaholic didn’t step into a shop or two.

Most of the shops cater to the tourist crowd, even the local Ace Hardware store gets in on the action.  Aside from exploring the little shops in the downtown area, I found myself visiting stores throughout the community.  Stores I normally wouldn’t visit if it hadn’t been for my quest to find a pair of rubber boots.  You see, I was in dire need of a pair of rain boots if I was to go out on the boat with Dennis.  His funky little boat required that I board from the water and the temps were way to cold for my Keen’s, thus the need for boots.  But not just any old rubber boot would do.  Come on, they had to be somewhat fashionable after all.

Visiting the local Garden and Feed store had me longing for a home with a yard. That feeling was quickly passed though :-)

Visiting the local Garden – Feed store had me longing for a home with a yard. That thought quickly passed 🙂

Finding rubber boots wasn’t an issue in this coastal community.  It was the fashionably cute part that was difficult.  I wound up running all over town, including the hardware store, feed store, stores an hour away in Corpus Christi, and eventually turned to Amazon.  Every time I found a pair of boots I liked, they didn’t have my size!BBQ

Whew…. all that shopping had me working up an appetite and this year’s new restaurant discovery was just five minutes up the road from our RV Park.  Stevie Lew’s is a locally owned, family run business with everything homemade.  My chicken BBQ sandwich was delicious as were the chicken tacos that I tested on visit number two.

Fresh roasted coffee beans

Fresh roasted coffee beans

They even roast their own coffee beans and it smelled wonderful.  I forgot to buy some coffee on my way out 😦  Next time!  See, there’s always a reason to return.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful markets around here.  Texas is home to a grocery store chain called H.E.B.  I’m always able to find what I need at a reasonable price and the employees are usually very helpful and friendly.  I’ve never had a bad experience at a H.E.B.  And then there are all the local seafood market’s which need to be explored.  We pulled out of Rockport, Texas, with every square inch of our RV freezer filled with fresh shrimp and fish.photography

Our time along the Gulf Coast flew by, and I’ll admit, we weren’t ready to leave.  That said, we’ve talked about spending two months along the coast next winter, but then again, the desert has a strong pull.  Ah, we’ll need to sit down and do a little scheduling and time management.  There are worse things to contemplate!vultures

Last year I did a post on the places we camped in this part of Texas.  Click here if you’d like more information on camping options.

So, I think I’ve about summed up our time along the Texas Gulf Coast – shopping, museums, photography, fishing, hunting, birding, photography, eating, boating, sunsets, sunrises, did I mention photography.  That’s a wrap!  Next up, we’re back in the desert southwest .photography

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Beautifully Ornate

I remember that trip as if it were yesterday.  I was sixteen years old traveling by myself to a foreign country. I boarded a plan in Chicago bound for Frankfurt, Germany, where relatives I barely knew picked me up at the airport.  That summer was an enlightening adventure beyond my expectations and was also responsible for piquing my interest in architecture.

Photo-Cologne Tourism

Photo-Cologne Tourism

The sight of the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) in Köln, Germany, had my jaw dropping in awe.  Viewing photos of this magnificent structure continues to have the same awe-inspiring effect on me to this day.  It seems, I continue to be drawn to beautiful and ornate churches, and can’t pass up an opportunity to photograph these architectural marvels.

Although, I haven’t seen anything as ornate and stunning as the Kölner Dom, I have encountered other unique structures, that are equally beautiful in their own right.

Last winter while visiting Tucson, Arizona, I found myself stopping by Mission San Xavier del Bac several times.  With each visit, I discovered more unique and ornate details.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission San Xavier del Bac

 intricate and ornate

intricate and ornate

Last summer while hanging around Denver, Colorado, I made several visits to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  The moment we drove by this structure, I knew I had to stop and explore.

Cathedral Basilica, Denver, Colorado

Cathedral Basilica, Denver, Colorado

Inside Cathedral Basilica

Inside Cathedral Basilica

But there was one church on my bucket list that I just had to see.  Perhaps it’s the home builder in me or my spiritual beliefs ….. regardless, the Loretta Chapel and its Miraculous staircase was a must see for me during a Santa Fe, New Mexico visit.

Inside the Loretta Chapel - miraculous staircase

Inside the Loretta Chapel and the miraculous staircase

Loretta Chapel

Loretta Chapel

Loretta Chapel

Loretta Chapel

I’m sure as we continue to travel, my ongoing quest to seek out these spiritual and architectural beauties will continue 🙂

This post was written in response to the WordPress Photo Challenge – Ornate.

M71-858 Micro-piece Cologne Cathedral Moonlight 1000

The Best of The Digital Photography Book Series: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’!

The Windy City

By now, you all know I grew up in the Chicago suburbs.  Thus, the city of Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart.  During past Illinois family visits, we always managed to squeeze in at least one trip into this iconic city.Chicago, IllinoisWhen I was in my twenties, I thought nothing of driving into the city.  With the exception of a school bus, public transportation was foreign to me.  Plus, I always preferred the freedom of driving my own car.  Now a days, I wouldn’t fathom driving in Picasso Chicagodowntown Chicago traffic, opting instead to take the train and walk to all the amazing sights this city has to offer.  Plus the Metra Transit System is just so very convenient.

With Lollapalooza scheduled during our targeted downtown venture, we chose to forgo a Chicago sojourn during this Illinois trip.  The addition of hundreds of thousands of concert goers invading the city acted as a deterrent to us like Raid to a bug.  Ah, next time I’ll do a better job checking event dates.

It you’ve never visited Chicago, I highly recommend you do.  Obviously it’s one of my favorite cities.  Here’s a sampling of things to see and do……

1.   Millennium Park is a wonderful place to stroll around.  This 24 acre park was constructed in the late 1990’s.  Sculptures, water features, a music venue, and gardens are a pleasure to explore during a warm summer day.  The “Cloud Gate” elliptical sculpture other wise known as “The Bean” is a photographers delight.  The Chicago skyline is uniquely reflected in this seamless stainless steel structure resembling a drop of mercury.

Millenium Park Chicago

Me back in 2009 in front of “Cloud Gate” aka “The Bean”.

2. – Next door to Millennium Park is the Chicago Art Institute Museum.  I was in elementary school the first time I visited this beautiful art museum.

Art museum lions

I’m standing behind one of the famous copper lions in front of the Chicago Art Museum.

Although at the time I found the visit rather boring, today I’m extremely grateful to have been exposed to this level of art at such a young age.   I remember one painting in particular making an indelible impression upon me (I was a mere eight years old) – Seurat’s –  A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.

French Impressionist art

My daughter stands in front of my favorite painting. Georges-Pierre Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte

Until this day, this Seurat is one of my favorites.  So much so, that I had a large print hanging in my home office that I purchased at the museum.  Did you know there’s not one brush stroke, only dots?  The entire canvas is composed of dots. Amazing!

French Impressionist art

We had a reproduction of this Monet hanging in our living room.

I’m such a huge fan of French Impressionism that our sticks and bricks home was decorated almost exclusively with art purchased from the Museum Shop.  And they remain waiting for me in a storage locker 🙂

My 2009 visit with my daughter, is most memorable.   Ashton had just completed a college prerequisite “Art” course of some sort and was sharing all kinds of fascinating tidbits on various artists including Seurat and Monet.  Until this art class, she hadn’t realized she grew up surrounded by famous works of art.  Cultured, indeed 😉

3. – A nice walk down Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) is a shoppers delight but head south and it’ll take you to the Field Museum.  Everyone loves the Field Museum; young and old alike.  The new dinosaur room even impressed me and I’m not necessarily into dinosaurs.  I can most likely be found in the Gem Room salivating over the largest pink diamond or blue sapphire.

Chicago's Field Museum

My son and I visit the Field Museum in 2007

My son, Logan, has always had an interest in dinosaurs…. what boy doesn’t?  He was in elementary school when the original Jurassic Park movie was released and visiting this display had his imagination running wild.  However, the Field Museum offers so much more than dinosaurs and gems.  Free admittance day is usually on a Monday and thus a perfect time to take a quick stroll through the museum without feeling a need to dedicate an entire day.  Two hours in a museum is usually long enough for me.

4.  Skyline;  I’ve had the privilege of traveling to most of America’s major cities as well as those in Germany.  That said, in my opinion Chicago has the most photogenic skyline I’ve ever seen.

photogenic city

Me and daughter in 2009 with the Chicago skyline in the background

With the exception of being in a boat on Lake Michigan, the next best place for a Chicago skyline photograph is near the Adler Planetarium.  One of these days, I’d like to be here at sunrise to photograph the skyline.

5.  Architecture;  you just have to love the amazing architecture Chicago has to offer.  Willis TowerFrom the Sear’s Tower (aka Willis Tower) to the John Hancock building to the old water tower to the original Marshall Field’s on State Street (now Macy’s), the mix between new and old is not to be ignored.

You could spend an entire day just walking around Chicago looking at buildings.  I know, I’ve done it.

Not to be missed is a visit to a sky deck/observatory.  I’ve been to both the Willis Tower and John Hancock and although I prefer the view out of the Hancock building, others prefer the Willis view.  Regardless, a visit to one is a must.

6.  We all know what a taxi is, but did you know Chicago offers a water taxi?  This is a fun way to get from the Field Museum to Navy Pier or from Navy Pier to the train station.  In an effort to give our legs a break, we’ve taken both.  It’s a great way to see the city from another angle.

Trump Tower Chicago

The Chicago River. Trump Tower (tall bldg. in background)was still under construction in 2007.

7.  Entertainment; Chicago is known as the Second City….. second to New York Chicago, IllinoisCity. Therefore, there’s always wonderful theater and live entertainment to be found.  My favorite; Second City.  Here’s a list of comedians who got their start at Chicago’s Second City – list.   Many ended up later joining Saturday Night Live.

And then there’s Wrigley Field and Navy Pier with their own entertainment venue.

Seriously, there is so much to see and do in Chicago that I feel guilty ending my list here, and don’t even get me started on the shopping.  So many fantastic shops.  Moving on….

Grant Park

Ashton in front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

Lodging in Chicago is also part of the adventure with endless options.  We stayed at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel several years ago and enjoyed it.  We flew from Denver to Chicago partly to spend Christmas with family but to also expose our children to the city around the holidays.  If I had to visit Chicago in the winter, December is the perfect month to do so.  The holiday decorations are incredibly pretty.

Chicago’s a huge city offering an abundance of things to see, do, and experience, but a little street smarts will serve you well.   Safety first and always be aware of your surroundings.

Chicago, Illinois

Me and Logan near the Field Museum – 2007

Chicago has long been associated with gun violence; from the Al Capone days to today’s gang violence.  Much of the gang activity is within their neighborhoods and not much of a concern for any of the areas I’ve mentioned in this blog post.

What about RVing in Chicago?  I’ve recently read a couple of blog posts on people boondocking (dry camping) at McCormick Place, Illinois’ premiere conference and convention center.  In both instances (at separate times) the couples found themselves parked in the parking lot alone.   The only RV on site…..  Hmm, I wonder why?  Fortunately, they both had an uneventful and safe experience.  However, it’s not a place I would stay.

Staying in the country at the Paul Wolff Campground surrounded by forest preserve and cornfields sounds like the perfect place to camp for anyone wanting to visit Chicago with an RV.  From there, a one-hour train ride into the windy city will allow you to enjoy all this marvelous place has to offer. the windy citySo why is Chicago nicknamed “The Windy City”.  Since the city sits at the shores of Lake Michigan it does experience a fair amount of wind from weather, but no more than a bunch of other places.  The power of the name lies in the metaphorical use “windy” for “talkative” or “boastful.”  Early on, Chicago politicians became famous for long-windedness.  Chicagoans were also considered braggarts.

But in another way, Chicago is actually earning the title of “windy city”.  Architects and engineers did not foresee the effects of tall buildings and air current.  In some areas, the wind is literally sucked down into the streets.  It may be perfectly calm in one area and extremely breezy in another.  Ladies hang on to your dresses, and men your hats!

There you have it….. Chicago, my kind of town

Patagonia Atom Sling, Black
City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

 

 

Lightweight

Before pulling out of Patagonia State Park, I checked one more time to see if there had been any cancellations, thus allowing us to extend our stay.  No such luck.  So we stuck with the original plan and hit the road with Tucson, Arizona, as our destination.Tucson MissionsTucson AZA few days earlier, I made notes on a couple of places to stop and explore along our route, but after indulging in a little too much of my “special” lemonade the night before, I was fighting a mild hangover headache and wasn’t in the mood to do anything but find our next home site.

Gosh, I’m such a lightweight.  I guess that can be viewed as a good thing.

The mission in Tumacácori and the cute town of Tubac will just need to wait until next years excursion.

Two hours after leaving Patagonia, Arizona, we  pulled into a boondocking area known as Snyder Hill near the far southwest side of Tucson.  We quickly found a level spot and proceeded to set up home.  While nursing my headache the rest of the day, Al and I discussed the things we wanted to see and do during this stay in Tucson.Tucson Arizona

It turns out, we had only two things on our want to do list.  This was our third visit to Tucson and on both previous visits, Mission San Xavier del Bac was a place I wanted to see yet eluded our schedule.  Not this trip!  I visited not once, but twice.historical sites in Tucsonhistorical missionsI shared a few of my morning photos of Mission San Xavier del Bac via a previous post and today I’m sharing my evening shots.

During this late afternoon visit, I entered the mission as it was being readied for the evenings service.  I hadn’t realized the mission held a Saturday evening mass.

I took a couple of quick interior photos but didn’t linger as I didn’t want to seem disrespectful.  I’m sure it was fine as there were plenty of other folks snapping away, but for me, I felt a little uncomfortable doing so.

About a half hour later folks started arriving for Mass and by 5:30 the mission was packed allowing for standing room only.

Spanish architectureSpanish Colonial architectureSpanish Colonial architectureWith my desire to visit and photograph Mission San Xavier satisfied, our next ‘must do’ on our list was seeing our friends.  Mike and Linda originally planned to boondock with us at Snyder Hill but a heat wave had rolled in requiring them to use the air conditioner for pooch, Lucy, while they were out and about all day exploring.  Thus, they were staying at the Gilbert Ray Campground just up the road with electric hook-up.

boondocking

Al, Ingrid, Linda, Mike, and Lucy

We invited Mike and Linda over to our place instead of going out to eat so Lucy could join us.  We had a great visit and realized our travels will be overlapping a few more times in the next couple of months just as they did last year.boondocking with friends

I’m assuming there could be a few more happy hours accompanied by more amazing sunsets in our future.  And by the way, I stuck with water the entire evening.  This lightweight couldn’t handle even the thought of an alcoholic beverage 😉boondocking dry campingWith both items checked off our list, we bid farewell to Tucson. Until next time!Spanish Colonial ArchitectureFYI…. This visit took place during the 3rd week in February and I know all you folks to the north are dealing with severe snowstorms and record low temperatures.  I feel for you and although all the photos of snow are beautiful, I don’t miss the shoveling or bad road conditions.  Yet another reason why we love our RV –  we follow the weather.Spanish architecture

boondocking

Boondocking at Snyder Hill southwest side of Tucson

Collapsible Silicone Party Platter and Serving Tray with Lid by Cood Cooking
Folding Chat Set

Mission San Xavier

Today’s WordPress photo challenge is the “Rule of Thirds”. Arizona Missions

We arrived in Tucson, Arizona, a couple of days ago and my first ‘must see’ stop was Mission San Xavier del Bac.  The stunning Spanish architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds made for a fun and interesting photographic opportunity.Mission San Xavier del BacMission San Xavier del Bac is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson.  The church was built between 1783 and 1797 and is the oldest European structure in Arizona.Mission San Xavier del Bac

The mission was originally founded by an Italian Jesuit, Padre Eusebio Kino.  San Xavier is still actively run by Franciscans and continues to serve the local community.Mission San Xavier del BacOver 200,000 visitors come here each year from around the world to view what is considered some of the finest Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.Mission San XavierThere was so much to explore and take in at the mission…. more than I expected. So if you do visit, plan on spending at least an hour versus the 20 minutes we scheduled.  I guess that means, I’ll just have to revisit.RoadrunnerAnd since Jen over at WordPress challenged us to experiment with the Rule of Thirds with a little bokeh (blur), I thought I’d end the post with this photo of an unusual cactus bloom located near the entrance to San Xavier.Spanish missions

The Spanish Missions of Arizona (True Books)
Moon Arizona & the Grand Canyon (Moon Handbooks)

From destruction to rejuvenation

After a morning of birding then sharing a yummy lunch with our husbands, Mona Liza and I bid adios to the guys and off we went to explore more of Galveston.  Two days earlier the four of us stopped in at the Galveston visitor center.  The gals at the center were extremely friendly and helpful.  This was the perfect stop to begin our Galveston explorations.

architecture in Texas

Just one of many beautiful homes in Galveston’s historic district

We left the center with plenty of information, brochures, and maps to assist us in getting the most out of our stay on the island.  Mona Liza and I used the ‘birding’ brochure that morning to help direct us to various spots for the best bird sightings.

hurrican Ike

beautiful neighborhood… these trees survived hurricane Ike

Galveston TexasNow it was time for us to pull out the ‘Tree Sculpture Tour’ brochure.  When Hurricane Ike hit on September 13, 2008, the combination of damaging winds and tidal surge led to the demise of many of Galveston’s tree’s.

A group of homeowners decided to turn destruction into symbols of rejuvenation by commissioning local artists to turn these downed and damaged trees into works of art.

These carved tree sculptures are located throughout Galveston but the bulk are concentrated within Galveston’s East End Historic District.

Although many of the beautiful, majestic oak trees are long gone, they are not forgotten.

Hurricane IkeWith map in hand, ML and I set out to see as many of these sculptures as possible.  Although we enjoyed the whimsical sculptures, we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful architecture.  Each house was unique and lovely in it’s own right.Georgian architecture

Texas architectureWithout the tree sculpture tour incentive, I’m not sure we would have ventured up and down all the residential streets, but I’m really glad we did.

I was so taken by the houses, the architecture, and the gardens that I just had to show the area to hubby.

The next day Al and I went for our morning walk up and down the streets of Galveston’s East End Historic District in lieu of the usual walk on the beach.

Tree carving

The owners of the home own a grey Great Dane and they commissioned the artist to carve a replica of their beloved dog. The tree had actually grown around the fence at the spot where the paws grip the fence.

The Galveston tree sculptures represent a very small percentage of the trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike.  Several organizations worked together to ensure 100% of the “Iked” wood was kept out of landfills.

tree carving

Yes, Toto and the Tin Man are both carved from a tree and still rooted to the ground

Some of the wood was used to restore an American historic whaling ship, 200 tons went to Malago, Spain, to build a full scale replica of the Brig “Galveztown”, and a local lumber yard took a fair amount.  And yes, 100% of the destroyed trees were repurposed in some form.

Tree Scuplture

a Grandmother reading. This tree sculpture sits in a park. How appropriate!

Geisha and Angels

A carved Geisha represents the homeowners love of the Orient. The smaller sculpture “The Angels” represents the homeowners two granddaughters. The Geisha was carved from the trunk of the tree while The Angels were carved from the top of the tree. The tree was originally taller than the home. “The Angels” carving is one of the few sculptures not still rooted in the ground.

No trip to Galveston Island would be complete without a visit to Galveston’s Historic District and that includes “The Strand“…. our next stop!hurricane Ike

architecure photography

Angular Galveston, Texas

As I was writing a  post in an attempt to get caught up with our travels, I’m distracted once again….. but in a good way by today’s Daily Post photo challenge.  The word ‘angular’ is perfect to share some of Galveston’s beautiful architecture.daily post

daily post photo challengeSince we arrived in Galveston, Texas 10 days ago, I’ve had the opportunity to walk around downtown Galveston a couple of times.  I’m in love with the beautifully restored Victorian homes.  Sure there are still signs here and there of a devastating hurricane that occurred in 2008 – hurricane Ike, but restorations are on going.photographyIn my short time in the area, I do believe I’ve fallen in love.  Galveston has so much to offer and hopefully I can convey all of it’s beauty in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned!Architecture Victorianarchitecure photography

photography architecture

hurricane Ike

the Great Dane dog sculpture was carved from a downed tree caused by hurricane Ike.  There are more tree sculptures located throughout the downtown area.  Talk about a great way of ‘repurposing’


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Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

Repurposing and Architecture

Denver coloradoWhew, it’s been a very busy week.  First, I helped my daughter move from the northwest end of the Denver area to the southern end which is much closer to her work.  This will make her life so much easier especially once winter arrives and the snow starts to fall.Chatfield State Park

Second, hubby and I moved from the Westminster Elks Lodge, which was home base for us for the better part of the summer to the Chatfield State Park.  Ah, camping near water once again….. we love it.

As I sit in my comfy chair admiring the view, Al and I Elkdiscuss our stay in the area.

Although we initially planned to be moving around the state of Colorado all summer, we realized sitting in one location for awhile gave us plenty of opportunity to explore the Denver area leisurely.

One of the things I’ve loved discovering this summer in Denver, Colorado, are the unique businesses located in repurposed structures.  The first of such places we visited was the Recreational Equipment Inc. Store.REIThe REI Store is housed in a building built in the early 1900’s and was used for electric streetcar lines.  Since I already did a post about this building, you can click here to read more about it.REIWith each subsequent visit to this REI Store, I noticed more and more of the little details like the old rail tracks being repurposed.  If you look closely in the photo below, the rails are used for the track lighting.REIMuch of the building and its history has been beautifully preserved.REIAnother unique find was a former 1880’s brick structure that was formerly a foundry and has been turned into a home for a couple of restaurants and an unusual collection of shops.  ‘The Source’ is located in Denver’s River North District.artisan foodsThe Source is considered an artisan food market with such specialty shops as; Artisan Bread Bakery, a Butcher Shop, Floral Shop, Liquor Shop, Coffee Roaster, Cheese & Spice Shop and the Crooked Stave Brewery to round out the selection of businesses.

 

Turning a garage into a wine tasting room – That’s exactly what the Spero Family did.  Spero Winery is a family owned and operated winery.

wine tasting

Clyde Spero proudly serves up samples

We found ourselves visiting this establishment a few times during our stay at the Westminster Elks Lodge.  The fact that there is FREE wine tasting every Saturday and is located less than 5 miles away from home sure made it irresistible.wine tastingAnd yes, it is totally free and the pours are generous.  They even offer a cheese, salami, and cracker platter free.  During our visits, we noticed a vast array of clientele from young to old and everything in between and the wine was good.

Cathedral BasilicaThe biggest surprise to me was the abundance of beautiful buildings in Denver.  It was a joy just walking around the city of Denver taking in the unique structures.

I was so enamored with the Cathedral Basilica that I even attended mass one Sunday morning.

The stained glass, Italian marble, and overall structure is simply stunning.

Holy GhostI had heard from locals that I needed to see the Holy Ghost Catholic Church.  At first, I wasn’t sure why until Al had me walk across the street from the church.

It looks as though the architects of this modern skyscraper designed that structure to appear as a large protector of sorts.

The combination of new and old buildings seemed to work in harmony throughout the entire city of Denver.

How about repurposing old pianos?  That’s exactly what you’ll see walking the outdoor Sixteenth Street Mall.  These pianos are available for anyone to enjoy.Sixteenth Street Mall

malls in DenverA city, is a city, is a city and as thus Denver is like any other city and has it’s fair share of homeless people living on the streets.  That said, it’s not uncommon to see a homeless person (or at least one that appears homeless) playing one of these pianos.

Sometimes the tune is basic and other times the raw talent stops you in your tracks.

Sixteenth Street MallOne time, my daughter and I just stood there, mouths opened, listening as a guy was banging out Beethoven’s fifth.

Needless to say, an appreciative crowd gathered.  It almost brought my daughter to tears as she asked, “Mom, how can someone with so much talent end up living on the streets?”  I’m sure we weren’t the only on lookers asking this question.

Probably the most impressive repurposing I discovered is located 30 minutes north of Denver.  What was once an ugly gravel pit is now a beautiful state park complete with ponds that are perfect for bird and fish habitat.Colorado State Parks

We found the St. Vrain State Park to be a lovely facility which we thoroughly enjoyed calling home for 5 days.

I was also impressed with Denver’s artistic sculptures displayed throughout the city.  I’ll save that for another post as this one is getting a little winded.

In closing, I’ll share one final photo  …..  a photo of MY favorite kind of ‘church’Fall colorsFYI…. we’re hitting the road Sunday.  Lake Mead here we come!
And remember…. if the text is in blue it’s linked to a website.  If it’s in red, that’s just me playing around and letting you know I’m changing subjects 🙂

Keurig K130/B130 Brewing System

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