San Francisco CA – March 2018

I WENT HOME! Well, my short, temporary home anyway. My parents lived east of the city for a couple of years while I was in college and I only spent a couple of Christmases and summers there. It was a short trip, but gotta say, Monterey is in my top three dream retirement cities (after Sedona and Carlsbad).

When I was in college, I took a black and white photography lab class. We had to produce a portfolio by the end of it, and there is SO much in San Francisco to see so I had no lack of inspiration. But that means a lot of my photographs are in black and white. Like…the Golden Gate Bridge, was gray! Needless to say I was super excited to get the opportunity to shoot in color!

We started the trip at the Palace of Fine Arts.

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We accidentally drove over the bridge. I was trying to make it to one of the viewing areas, but the GPS was slow and told me to turn after I had already passed it. No biggie, the bridge is beautiful!

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Next stop was Pier 39.

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View from the hotel room!

View from the hotel bar on the top floor.

Sunset over the City, Bridge, and Pacific Ocean!

This was all from the same sunset!

Sunrise the next morning! The windows were filthy, but I still got to see it.

Turns out I did take a couple of pictures in color.

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Pictures don’t do gooseberries justice, so I had to take a video.

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Can you see the fish in the very middle? An eye and slightly parted mouth…

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I have never seen an active octopus. This one didn’t stop moving long enough to get a good shot!

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After the aquarium, we did the 17-Mile Drive around Pebble Beach.

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The last time we were in Monterey (16 years ago!)…

The hills in the city are SUPER steep!

Fisherman’s Wharf and real sourdough bread!

The last day was spent driving to our old home and seeing how the town had changed.

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I say it all the time, but I HEART California!

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Terracotta Army – VMFA Jan 2018

Another amazing exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts!

When Ying Zheng was laid to rest in 210 BC, he was accompanied into the afterlife by an army of nearly 8,000 life-size clay soldiers, horses, chariots, organized into battle formation and equipped with a full arsenal of weapons.

Ying Zheng ordered the construction of his mausoleum complex and military entourage shortly after he became king of the Qin state in 246 BC. In only eleven years as emperor, he brought about significant political and cultural reforms, unified the nation, and reshaped Chinese national identity in ways that have resonated for 2,200 years.

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This was the only (stated) replica in the exhibit.

Finally, the army!

Offering a glimpse into ancient China’s firm belief in the afterlife, this section of the exhibit displayed life-size terracotta figures and other objects excavated from the First Emperor’s mausoleum complex. Some figures stand over six feet tall and weigh more than 400 pounds. Stone armor, bronze weapons, and a bronze goose accompany these large-scale sculptures that depict the First Emperor’s soldiers, officials, and servants.

More than 700,000 workers constructed the mausoleum complex over 38 years of Ying Zheng’s reign as both king and emperor. The First Emperor’s mausoleum complex (which sits at the foot of Mount Li, near Xi’an) is a necropolis, or a large cemetery of an ancient city, and measures approximately 38 square miles (more than half the size of the City of Richmond) in its entirety. The complex includes the tomb mound, ritual structures, a palace, an armory, an entertainment arena, stables, and a garden pond, as well as three pits containing the terracotta army figures. To date, it is estimated that only 20 percent of the buried figures have been excavated.

These objects not only represent furnishings and amenities for the afterlife but also show the artistry of ancient Chinese craftsmen.

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Today, the First Emperor’s tomb mound remains undisturbed, and its contents are a mystery.

Virginia Orchid Society Annual Orchid Show – 2018

Strange’s Florist hosted the 12th annual Virginia Orchid Society Orchid Show. I went last year (after going to Longwood), thinking it was just going to be a few orchids. I didn’t take my camera (I know, gasp!!), and I was completely wrong about show! There were so many orchids! And so many species I had never seen before, or even knew could exist!

So when I saw it on the calendar again this year, I made sure to take my camera! It did seem a little smaller this year, but it still had so many pretty orchids!!

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I found this one at the show and it was so different than the others, I just had to add it to my office windowsill :)

And this is the whole collection!

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You can see a post of my first orchid here.

I love orchids!!

 

New York City – Holiday Edition

Other than making connections in New York, I had never actually been into New York City (and I don’t count the time we stayed overnight during a long layover because a travel agent had no clue how to do her job).

I thought Mom had always wanted to go to NYC to see the Christmas windows. She thought I had been dropping hints for a long time. We both thought this little jaunt was for the other, but regardless we had a good time. Despite the FRIGIDLY COLD TEMPERATURES! But I guess it wouldn’t be December in NYC without the cold.

We arrived a little early to the hotel, so we walked around as much as we could stand (which wasn’t long).

View of Central Park from our room

The Plaza

Walking to Rockefeller Plaza

 Rockefeller Center!

Top of the Rock!

It snowed overnight, which was BEAUTIFUL!

But it slightly dampened and tampered with the open-air double-decker downtown bus tour planned for that morning. But I made the best of it, shivering all the way!

These were probably cool shots, minus the ice on the partial enclosure.

Times Square

NY Public Library

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One of the Christmas Marts. We went to the one in Columbus Circle and I don’t know if they are all the same, but the one we went to was more of a flea market.

Brief glimpses of the Brooklyn Bridge

I’m not 100% sure what all of these buildings are, but I’m pretty sure the justice statue is from the NY City Hall building.

After zooming in, I could see this was the US Customs building.

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Charging Bull in Wall Street. The tour guide said it was “anatomically correct” and if you take a picture from the bull’s back, it is said to bring good luck. I’ll take his word for it. Not sure there is any superstition to putting one’s purse on the horns, but they ruined a good on the move shot!

We had to disembark at Battery Park for some inexplicable reason. The new bus would not arrive for 15-20 minutes, so we walked down to get a shot of the Statue of Liberty.

Was also able to see the Freedom Tower unimpeded by other buildings and ice on the windows. Hard to believe that was the site of so much devastation.

Our new guide pointed out a rich guy had to move to NYC, but didn’t want to leave his cape cod, so he moved it piece by piece and reassembled it on top of a building.

Our new tour guide was strangely obsessed with pointing out every hospital and medical center on our route, rather than the popular touristy sites, so not sure if any of these buildings are actually something, or just cool.

This is just something cool though.

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Empire and Chrysler (respectively)

Not sure, but the connected walkway is cool.

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I think this is Brooklyn.

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Rockefeller Plaza (from the ground)

Saks Fifth Avenue (finally some windows!)

More Christmas-y stuff!

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After the tour, (and after I regained feeling in my lower extremities) I walked around on the hunt for decorations!

Bergdorf Goodman

A cool building that was concave (did I say that right?)

Tiffany & Co.

I don’t know why I find this juxtaposition ironic.

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Ferragamo and Cartier

Several more…

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just smack dab in the middle of all the sparkles.

And half a block away is St. Thomas Church.

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Back to the sparkles!

A walk through Central Park ended my adventure.

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The next day was even colder and kept us inside while we waited to go to the airport. But I experienced de-icing for the first time!

All in all it was a very merry adventure!!