My birthday this year happened to fall on a Sunday (Feb 8); very thankful it was a day with great weather. Even for South Carolina, having a sunny day with temperatures reaching 67 degrees F by 4:00PM was out of the norm. So what to do? We decided to go to downtown and visit Falls Park; we were not alone. Downtown was packed with people enjoying the warm weather and you saw people wearing from thick coats to shorts and t-shirts. Yes, some South Carolinians consider temps in the 50’s freezing, but many others (probably Northerner transplants) the temps felt like a nice summer day.
One thing that really caught our attention was the large number of dogs we saw. I focused my lens on them so lets take a look at a small sampling of them below.
Dogs everywhere, several times a dog jam in the spot we sat for a while.
We saw a total of 5 Great Danes; this one was the first. They seem such gentle giants. Here you see him allowing this little one very close without eating him whole.
Like I said, all types. This particular Pitbull type has such a distinct look. I am not a dog expert so I hope I am not mislabelling any dogs. If I am please leave a comment with your correction.
This lady seems to be wondering if the Great Dane is a horse…she is probably thinking…I will need a shovel instead of a pooper scooper…lol. Actually, she was not even look at the Great Dane, just added her here as it played well. So much for truth in reporting…hey, I came clean before publishing it.
My wife could not resist petting this little Maltese, Poodle and Yorkie mix. She really wants a dog now. On the right, well sometimes the dog takes the owner for a walk.
Some dog owners have no problem dealing with more than one dog at the time. Good to see a Red Sox fan in the mix! Bottom left; she really posed for me.
A great looking Boston Pit-Bull sticking his tongue it seems. Looks like a powerful medium guy; he was very sure of himself prancing like all must stop and pay tribute to him. A couple each with their pair of dogs; not sure about this; looks like a lot of work to me.
Some dog owners with heavy coats think their dogs are also cold, even though is in the mid 60’s. On the right you see a couple of Great Danes; one hairy…never see one like this.
My second most favorite image of the day. He said it is a dogs life? For the most favorite image see below.
My favorite picture of the day! How can you argue with this face and eyes?
Thank you for visiting!
We had a jammed packed December with dinners and family events, visits and celebrations as I am sure you also had. The weather in Greenville was good considering up North the temps were finally taking a dive and cold started to set in. As our two girls could not join us in Greenville for Christmas, we joined them in Indianapolis (so glad Jocelyn could fly from MA to join us). I have not been taking too many photographs over the past couple of months; been spending quite a bit of time riding my bike with different groups and exploring many great roads offering a mixture of beautiful mountain views and some good climbs. Below I am sharing a taste of late November and December.
Being in Greenville, SC means that fall colors hang around a lot longer than in the North. But all good things come to an end. This is one last picture I took while walking along the Swamp Rabbit Trail before all the leaves fell. Spring is not that far away though…Yeah!
It was not going to last forever. When we moved into our new home in August 2013 we knew that most of the woods that we had in front, left side and beyond of our property would be taken down to fit many more homes. We did have a couple of summers with really nice privacy, but no more. These pictures show most of the woods around us have been taken down. The good news is that we still have good distance between our neighbors and the back will remain wooded as there is a stream close by. Will post same scenes again once the new homes are finished.
We finally made it to Larkins on the River restaurant for brunch; high recommended if you are in the area. This place is very nicely decorated, the food is really good and the service excellent. Usually we do not have dessert, but when we saw a Warm bread pudding with caramel, blueberries and craisins we had to share one. It delighted at every level – wow was it good.
This was the sign of the month for us. We saw it while walking in Main Street Hendersonville, NC. Funny and puzzling at the same time.
One evening during Christmas many in our neighborhood place alongside the front of their property Luminaries (a white bag with some sand and a candle inside of it) to complement their decorations. The selected day to showcase them seems to be a big deal; you see a large number of homeowners walking around the whole neighborhood enjoying the lights. Of course, there is a competition involved; we did not win this time, but will try next year.
My wife just hanging with our oldest daughter Sarah. As usual, Sarah is not too thrilled I am taking her picture -kids.
For the second year in a row we attended the Christmas Eve service at East 91st Street Church on Indianapolis. A very large church, but it has a small church feel to it. The Christmas Eve service was very nicely done.
As we wait for midnight, Sarah got us hooked on Master Chef Junior – initially I thought it was silly, but after a couple of episodes I realize that this young people really get into food and are really very good at it. Still, seems like a lot of pressure to put them through, but they seem to thrive in it…well, almost all…some do breakdown and cry. Actually, not much different than the adult version…lol. In this picture, the kids had to fillet a large salmon and cut the fillet into specific portions. It was quite a difficult task for some of them as the fish was really large, but most did amazingly well.
Nicholas, the wonderful boy we fostered in China sent Bethe a Happy Birthday song; you can only imagine how happy Bethe and I were to see Nicholas doing so well. See short video by clicking HERE
Nicholas also made Christmas cookies for us…they we delicious Nicholas!!! Thank you
Indianapolis was very cold during most of our visit. Here is my wife trying to keep warm by hugging Jocelyn really tight. It did not work. This area is a canal located in the center of downtown Indy; never heard of it, but its been here since the mid 1800’s. Originally conceived to promote commerce throughout a wide area from Peru, Indiana to Evansville, Indiana. However, money problem stopped it original design that would have made it 296 miles long. Today it is 8 miles long and the city had done a very nice job revitalizing the area to include restaurants, gondolas, games for kids, etc. A very popular attraction in the summer I hear.
Next to the canal there is a very nicely done September 2011 memorial. Will never forget…lets hope and pray we will indeed never forget.
Cold evening walking around Monument Circle in the center of downtown Indy. Time for a hot chocolate!
This is how Monument Circle looked in 1907. Until the early 1960’s, no building in Indianapolis could be higher that the Soldiers and Sailors monument.
Too cold for a carriage ride.
A quick snapshot from us after Christmas Eve service. Wishing you all a happy 2015!
On our way back from California, as we crossed into Arizona, we saw a sign for the old historic town of Tombstone. As soon as we saw that sign my wife said…”we must stop and check it out”. You need to know that my wife’s favorite western movie is Tombstone with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliot as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. Many other good actors also appeared in this film, but the movie centered around these four as they were the principal historical figures of the famous gun fight at the OK Corral. If you have not seen this film it is highly recommended.
Promotional picture of Kurt Russell’s Tombstone movie. Can you tell who is who in this picture based on the names listed above? One of my favorite quotes in this movie was spoke by Russell…”tell them I am coming and hell is coming with me!”
The town of Tombstone was founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in Arizona territory. Tombstone has the distinction of being the last wide-open frontier boomtown in the old American West. Mining was the source of wealth in Tombstone, the town boomed from 1877 to 1890. Here you see my wife at the west entrance of Tombstone. Yes, in the background you can see the famous OK Corral, more on that later.
No doubt that the Tombstone movie gave this old town a good boost. Tombstone survives today due to its many visitors attracted by the history, OK Corral gunfight reenactments and museums showcasing the towns short but rich history. In this museum, amongst many other items we found the saddle Kurt Russell rode in the movie Tombstone. Ok, not that historic, but hey.
The site of the famous OK Corral gunfight where the Earp’s and Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Bill Clanton. The gunfight was the result of a personal, family and political feud. This display is actually very well done. Press a button and you get the whole story over loudspeakers. The props move according to the gunfight sequence. Unfortunately we were 20 minutes late to the live re-enactment of the gunfight; hope you get there on time when you visit.
In one of the many small museums we found a good size collection of old photographs documenting every day life in Tombstone. I liked this one in particular; the 1904 Tombstone football team after they beat the University of Arizona team. That must have been something to celebrate then. Check the protective equipment; wonder if they were better off without so much protection as I would think you would need to factor it will also hurt you when you hit your opponent.
Doc Holliday’s girlfriend; Big Nose Kate. Well, Hollywood does not always pick actors that look like the individuals they play. Big Nose Kate was a lot better looking in the movie than in this period photo. Oh well, the past is always romanticized a great deal isn’t it? Brief account of Kate’s role in this plaque.
So what is one option when you retire after practicing dentistry for several decades? Join the Tombstone period re-enactment players is one option. That is exactly what this gentleman did; we spoke to this gentleman briefly and told us that he was a dentist for many years and after retiring decided to join the re-enactment group in Tombstone. He loves it and wished he did it sooner.
Tombstone Sherriff outside Big Nose Kates Saloon. Not sure if he liked his picture taken, could not see his right hand and wonder if it was on his gun ready to shoot me at the same time I did…hmmm
Inside Big Nose Kate Saloon. According to the last US census, Tombstone has about 1,504 residents and 419 families residing in the city. While the main source of income for Tombstone is tourism (about 450 thousand visitors per year) many of those in the bars were local. Many of them looked like they belong in the town’s heyday. Having a beer in this historic place was fun.
East Allen Street, pretty much like it must have look like in its heyday. Unfortunately, Tombstone saw many fires throughout its history and many of the original buildings (were rebuilt; some more than twice). Regardless, the feel of the town is like going back to a time romanticized by Hollywood. This street is closed to vehicles and is the main tourist attraction in the town. There are many gift shops, eateries and saloons along its three blocks.
Inside the Crystal Palace; originally known as the Golden Eagle Brewing Co. it was one of the early Tombstone saloons. During the massive 1881 fire, this building was partially damaged. After quick repairs, the saloon changed its name the The Crystal Palace. It quickly became the premier saloon with fine dining in addition to serving the choicest brands of wines, liquors and cigars. Gambling and live music were also part of the action every night of the week. Remember, Tombstone was a very prosperous mining town and money was abundant.
The actual roulettes that were in use during the Earp’s stay in Tombstone.
A wider view of the Crystal Palace Saloon. The bar is a beautiful mahogany art work. Unfortunately, after prohibition the bar closed and for many years it was vacant. During prohibition it was used as a Greyhound station, a warehouse and a movie theater. Soon after prohibition was lifted it reopened as a saloon again. By then the mahogany bar was no longer there and could not be found. Fortunately, in 1963, the Historic Tombstone Adventures, an organization formed to preserve and restore many of the town’s landmarks purchased the property. The found drawings of the original bar design and reproduced it to it finest details.
This is a picture of the original bar. As you can see when comparing the two; they look identical. Cheers to successful restoration efforts!
Two streets from East Allen Street you find the entrance to one of the many mines in Tombstone. Silver was the primary precious metal mined in this area. By 1981, cumulative silver production in this area totaled 490 million troy ounces (15 million Kg. or 33 million lb.). That is a lot of silver. We were told that mining has not stopped and tourism is the main source of income in town.
The famous Oriental Saloon. This is the saloon that Wyatt Earp and his brothers took over and made a good deal of money overseeing gambling operations. Like to take a peek inside? Click HERE for a brief video I found in the web.
Drinking and gambling were not all of the activities miners and visitors had available.
Some things never change!
We hope you enjoy this brief tour of Tombstone. We wished we arrived earlier as many of the stores were closed by the time we arrived. However, we really enjoyed our visit and highly recommend you stop by if in the area.
Soon after we ended our Route 66 trip at the Santa Monica Pier, in Los Angeles, CA we departed for San Francisco to visit my cousin Victor and tour surrounding areas. One of the areas we planned to visit was Napa or Sonoma Valley. As we gave ourselves one day for either one we chose Napa Valley as they seemed to have a wider number of well know wineries, but also many smaller ones. Additionally, even though the valleys are close their weather micro system can vary a great deal on the same day. The day we visited was such a day; Sonoma was cloudy and cool, while Napa was sunny and significantly warmer. We decided to do one in-depth tour at the Robert Mondavi To Kalon Vineyard and then self-tours on Grgich, Beringer, and Castello de La Amorosa vineyards.
Growing grapes and making good wine is not new to Napa; these activities can be traced back to the early 19th century. Since then the population has grown (405 people in 1850, to 140,385 in 2013) and the number of wineries today reach above 400. We chose to tour Mondavi for their excellent reputation and being one of the premier families with longest standing and influence in the valley.
Main entrance to the Mondavi Winery. Robert Mondavi is regarded as capturing worldwide recognition to Napa Valley throughout his innovating wine making techniques and marketing strategies. Mondavi parents emigrated from Italy and settled in Minnesota where Robert was born. In 1943, Robert joined his father and his brother Peter in the purchase of the Charles Krug Winery located St. Helena (Napa Valley). In 1965 Robert Mondavi left his family winery and opened his own winery in Oakville, California. In 1966, he founded the Robert Mondavi Winery with his sons Michael and Tim; their goal was to produce wines that would rival the finest French wines of the day. Robert Mondavi was the first major winery in Napa post-Prohibition era. (Picture uploaded into public domain by Geographer)
Roses, beautiful roses everywhere. During the tour, we found out that while they are beautiful to look at, the roses had a very specific purpose. If there was a bug infestation in the area the first things to die would be the roses. They were used as an early warning system so that those tending the vines would take action before the vines could suffer widespread destruction. However, with today’s pesticides (too bad) the roses are mostly used for decoration only.
There are several tour options, we opted for the 90 minute in-depth tour with wine tasting at the end. The tour started reviewing some of the wines around the beautifully manicured property. Explanation on grape types, longevity, weather impact to their output, harvesting and sorting techniques were detailed. We then entered one of the fermentation rooms – shown in this image. Mondavi Wineries use a Gravoty YStem to process, ferment and filter their grapes and grape juice. If you are interested in more detail on how the fermentation and cellaring process is done at Mondavi click HERE for videos.
Grapes are loaded from the top into these huge French Oak barrels (I believe they shared each costs about $40K). Good thing they last for quite a long time with proper care.
Cellaring takes place in areas such as this one. The statue you see in the center is of Saint Francis of Assisi; were told that he is guarding to make sure the angles do not take more than their allotted share (evaporation – called Angels Share). They had just moved most of the barrels out of this room, but usually the barrels lay on their side – steel bands resting on the concrete strips you see along the room.
Selecting which winery to visit is really difficult; especially if you are giving yourself a day to experience Napa…clearly you need more time. We chose Grgich Hills Estate winery for their unique look, organic approach and small size. After visiting one of the biggest ones in Napa, seeing a smaller one would be an interesting comparison.
As already mentioned, the Grgich Hills Winery is totally organic. All of their wines are made with grapes grown within the winery fields. While they make really good red wines, they are best known for their Chardonnays; they won first place in the prestigious “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Once again, a California based winery gave notice to the world that the area had a tremendous potential to produce top tier wines to please the most discerning palates.
A unique event going the day we visited was the opportunity for guests to crush grapes the old fashion way; using your clean feet. Here is my lovely and very happy wife doing the grape dance and being not too sure if the feel of crushed grapes was a pleasant one.
She got over it as soon as she saw her red grape juice footprints on a t-shirt she took home to remember the experience.
It was interesting to hear that in Napa, most of the wineries rely solely on rain and moisture to grow the vine fruits. However, as they cannot 100% rely on mother nature, they build irrigation pipes that run across the lower position of the vines. In many European countries, irrigating grape vines that will be used for wine making is prohibited as it can have a detrimental effect on the taste of the wine. Actually, low levels of irrigation (natural or man controlled) is preferable as it will produce a smaller grape with higher sugar content – a combination for an excellent start to great wine.
We stopped at Beringer Vineyards for lunch and a quick look then to Castello di Amorosa…probably the most beautiful building in Napa. This picture is the view as you come up from the parking area. The castle took almost 20 years to complete and it was built using repurposed stones and new ones quarried in Europe. Its creator and owner is Dario Sattui, also known as the Mad King on Napa Valley. His story is quite interesting, so if you like to read some of it click HERE.
Us getting ready to enter Castello di Amorosa.
As mentioned before, the grand majority of the materials used to build it were repurposed from other European castles. When they could not find what they were looking for, they recreated them using the same manufacturing method used on that period. The feel of this castle is truly amazing; just like it has been in place for more than 300 years. A must see in Napa.
Getting ready to purchase some tour tickets. As you can imaging, this vineyard is extremely popular and they seem to be doing a huge business selling their wines; that are only available at the castle or via mail orders.
This picture does not do this room any justice. I could have used a wide angle lens to capture its grandeur and beauty, They were setting up for an upcoming wedding… what a place!
The second floor has beautiful corridors with views to the grand courtyard.
Always a sucker for an old door. Outside for the modern lock, this door is simply amazing.
A view from the grand courtyard; I can imagine this place being used in some movies. We visited during late afternoon so the light quality made this place look even better.
So many angles, so many spots, such a beautiful place.
I can see ourselves having breakfast in a nice summer morning right there…can you see yourself enjoying such a place?
Even on our way out of the castle, you just feel you are in Tuscany.
Thanks for visiting and hope you have enjoyed some of Napa through this post. Will need to return as we felt we just scratched the surface of this magical place.