Saturday, December 4, 2010


I was in Vegas last spring and got to spend the day in what I think is the most beautiful building I've ever seen. The Wynn Casino is spectacular, both inside and out. From the gardens to the foyer to the shops it is incredible. I spent the better part of a day with a camera wandering the premises.
The view of the casino as you approach from the Strip. The sidewalks wind away from the street so it's a pleasant walk.

The beautiful horse guards the entry way.

The gardens are wonderful, with wide clean sidewalks to walk as you enjoy the flowers.

Just inside the doors a wide walkway guides you to the reservation desk. Light and flowers shadows the way for each visitor.

The gardens leading to the entrance include huge glass flowers, lights hidden in the shrubs and polished sidewalks.

Just inside the casino is the most incredible restaurant and bar decorated with an impressive assembly of umbrellas. I spent a long time enjoying the complexity of the decor. With the tall windows and natural lighting it was a beautiful place. Expensive, but beautiful.

The curving stairwell gave me a wonderful way to view the decor.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spending the day on Turnagain Arm

I have a friend from Pittsburgh spending the week with me. This is her first time in Alaska and I spent the day with her on the Arm. Our plan was to wander the Seward Hwy, stopping and starting as we came across photographic possibilities. We didn't get very far.

Our first stop was Potter Marsh just outside of the city. The Tundra swans are migrating to warmer climates (sounds familiar!) They stop at the marsh and stock up for a few days of grub. There were about a dozen swans.

We came across a family closer to the road; a mated pair and 2 signets. Shelagh got a quick lesson on 'doing a Panama" and using the car as a buffer from highway traffic while we shot a few frames.

We stopped at Beluga Point and ignored the "No Trespassing, R/R property" signs and climbed out on the point, crossing the r/r tracks and climbing over the big rocks.

Beluga Point has some great little places that capture lots of driftwood. Some of the logs would be great to have in a fireplace for the entire night.

At the same time, some of the vistas don't seem quite Earth like.

There are lots of places along Turnagain Arm that have pullouts to tell you about the history of the area. There are also great trails to walk and bike. It's easy to spend the day and not go anywhere.

The highway was relocated several years ago so the old pavement gives you a great place to hike away from traffic. One of the things you'll find as you hike the old roadbed is the 105 howitzer gun used to shoot down avalanches. Still in use today these date from WW2 and can hurl a shell 5 miles into the mountain to knock down the snow before it buries the road. That's Shelagh enjoying the afternoon sun.

There are lots of waterfalls bordering the old roadbed. Tucked into the hills they ice up in the winter and create dramatic ice cliffs and dangerous conditions to walk and hike.

Across from the Portage Glacier turnout is the Alaska Conservation Center. It is a 'rescue and education' center for lots of the larger mammals in the state. You drive thru it or hike the road. The wildlife are in large fenced enclosures roaming the area. Most of these animals were injured at one time or are being used to help breed an endangered species.

A family of caribou.

Musk ox. The original herds north of Fairbanks were just about hunted to extinction in the 1800s. The breed was re-introduced to Alaska with stock from Russia years ago. Turns out the DNA was identical so the stock from Russia was from the same original herds. That was a good thing. There is now a large herd roaming the tundra. Just like bison. We have a large bison herd in the interior.

Grizzly bear.

The road to Portage has some great lakes and streams. There are a lot of beaver dams and the salmon runs are really thick in the area. Portage Glacier no longer calves into Portage Lake; it left the lake a couple summers ago and the only way to see the glacier now is to take a boat.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In Charlotte..again

My 2nd trip to Charlotte gave a day to go walkabout with my camera. Amazing the artwork you find. This was outside the Marriott Hotel.

When I was here in April this fountain was dry. Amazing what warm temps will do. There were 2 small cildren playing in it.

This little alley held a couple great restaurants.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New home in Charlotte, NC

Ken's house in Anchorage is sold and the new home in Charlotte is paid for. Furniture will be arriving next week Now the real work begins.

The very hot weather has impacted the lawn badly. The landscaping will take a long time to bring it back to where it was in the Spring.

There are lots of interesting features in the backyard. The previous owners had stacked lots of rocks and bricks to use for building planters and walls. At the moment I don't know how I will use them.
The back porch of the house. Lots of lattice work to add vines and flowers. It's very quiet in the yard. All you hear are birds and crickets.

The pool table will fit just fine. Need to get a rug to put under the feet so it won't damage the floor.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A new chapter in life

In anticipation of moving to North Carolina Ken's beautiful Harley trike has a new home in San Diego. Doug and Peg arrived last weekend to ride it south. They had quite an adventure down the Alcan that I'm sure I'll hear all about.

The four of us in front of Chilkoot Charles at the beginning of a long journey.

Doug and Peg starting out on a huge adventure.

Ken's house with the evidence of it being sold. Selling it was just the start of the work. Since it was an old house it has to be brought up to fire code. Which includes a new roof and new windows in the 2nd floor bedrooms. Plus electrical upgrades and changes.

The movers packing the house while Ken watches over it.

Packing a container van with everything. There was enough space for the truck as well. Everything is heading south via barge and truck.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A moment of ranting

We interrupt my normal travel blog to rant about handicap access. Yesterday I spent several hours with Ken to get him a folding wheelchair. We can use it while we're shopping or in a mall or whenever he can't walk. Because he can't walk more than 5 or 6 steps without being in absolute pain.
Once we got the chair we went to the Sears Mall to find him a pair of shoes that will fit his terribly swollen feet. Got lucky there, a pair of moccasins 2 size above his normal size. Sears Mall is one of the oldest malls in Anchorage. Handicap parking spaces, yes, buttons to push and hold open doors, no. Handicap access bathrooms, yes. Doors that will admit a wheelchair, no. Ramps down sidewalks, yes. They're even marked. Doors that will open to the ramps no.

The main aisles of Sears are wide open for someone in a wheelchair. The aisles between clothes, no go. Aisles in a shoe store, no way. Needless to say I pushed lots of stuff out of the way.

And do you think there were anyone to assist someone in a wheelchair? Are you kidding me?

The handicap parking spaces closest to the doors are occupied by mini-vans with no tags or stickers. One car is running with a woman sitting in it while hubby runs in and gets coffee.

One of the things about Vegas is everything is very handicap accessible. That's because they have busloads of senior citizens there every day, playing slots and running around the casinos on scooters.

I really hope Charlotte is better. Else I may take up protest signs and march.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Charleston, S.C. 2010

I haven't worked on this in awhile. Life keeps getting in the way. The April trip included an overnight trip to Charleston, S.C. Penny and I spent a day in historic Charleston, playing tourist and enjoying the old city. I'd love to see more of it. While the trip was in mid April the tourist traffic was in full swing. Parking near the shoreline was impossible.

One of the neatest locations is 'Angel Oak Tree' which is kinda off the beaten track. It's a 1500 year old tree, still alive and healthy in a campground.

Downtown historic Charleston has a population of citizens in the middle of what most people think of as a huge tourist destination. The homes are behind stone walls with hidden alleys and entrances. But if you walk the side streets you get a glimpse of beautiful courtyards and gardens.

The courtyards and gardens are hidden so well you actually have to do a little snooping down tiled alleys to see them. There were lots of 'for sale' signs in the windows, if you have the money to buy 1000-1500 sq. ft. for over a million dollars.

There is a historic theater on Queen St. The building has been completely restored and still has plays on the stage.

When you go through the building you come out into a courtyard that was used to stable the horses of theater goers. Now it's used as a small dining area before and after a play.

Like all historic towns the churches are important. There are several, all beautifully built with wonderful gardens and ancient cemeteries.

There is a great Irish Pub in a corner of one of the streets. Great place for a break, snack and a drink.

Then of course there is the bridge to get there. It's a great bridge.

Once I finally retire, I will spend a few days there.