Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Montana, Glacier National Park



Map picture

Recently celebrating it's 100th year anniversary, Glacier National Park is one of the must visit National Parks. With the west entrance located just 25 miles from Kalispell Montana, access to the park can be quick and easy.






Leaving Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in a rental car with unlimited mileage, I am headed to the east entrance of Glacier National Park. Although the west entrance is closer, my plan is to drive the loop along US Highway 2 from east to west. Exiting the airport I am careful as the speed limit on the crossing street, US93 is a warping 70MPH!

The road to Glacier US2 follows low mountainous terrain that offers nice scenery as you pass through small Montana towns.


Ebay 068 From US89 I approach the east entrance to the park at St. Mary but not before checking out “The World's Largest Purple Spoon”.






Ebay 070 A taste of what Glacier offers can be seen in the distance but first I must pass fields of pastures and flowers.







Ebay 075 Lake Mary nearby like other areas of the park offers great hiking trails along with affordable boat tours.







Armed with a noise making dry branch I set out on my first hike aware that I may not be alone. Lions and Tigers and Bears … Oh My!


Ebay 080 My shadow keeps my company and we enjoy the hike without having to use my dry branch defensively.






Ebay 081 Hiking Streams







Ebay 077 Snow Laced Mountains Majesty



Ebay 078 Hiking Trail Flowers








If a picture is worth a thousand words then being here must be worth even more. The fresh air, gentle breezes and the sounds of nature are left out no matter how many pictures you take.



Ebay 082 The full experience comes from being here.







Numerous “just take it in” stops along the way including Jackson Glacier Overlook before I arrive at Logan’s Pass Visitor Center for another hike. This time a slow gradual climb to Hidden Lake.


Ebay 083 

Hidden Lake



GNP_mountain_goat2_sm A popular hike, I am not alone on the two thousand plus feet climb even a few mountain goats join me but keep their distance.







Looking forward or behind you, the views are amazingly rewarding. Not knowing any better you would “pinkie swear” you where in the Swiss Alps. I resist the urge to start yodeling.


Weeping Wall Glacier Not knowing a wall could cry, I am made a believer as I visit the “Weeping Wall”. I am not sure why it is weeping but the wall does seem all cracked up.






Ebay 113  Unable to offer comfort, I move on.







With a few hours of daylight remaining, I take advantage of the situation to make a final short hike at Trail Of The Cedars Nature Trail.


Ebay 109 Going To The Sun Road is the route through Glacier National Park and at some points it requires nerves of steel especially in narrow areas during road construction.






Ebay 114 With numerous switch backs on two lane mountainous roads, its an E Ticket Ride.

Luckily, there are many scenic stops for you to return your heartbeat and blood pressure to normal.






Ebay 117 Mountain Waterfall








Ebay 118

As night falls, I catch a photo of a Doe heading out for the night.






It is almost 10pm as I make my way back to Kalispell with regrets that my time at Glacier was too short. I am jealous of those that had the wisdom to remain and promise myself that one day I will be wise about such things.

The peaceful sounds of rushing waters without Golden Arches accompanies me as I pass McDonald Falls and Lake McDonald leaving Glacier. However, I must wait until Kalispell to replace my spent calories with a strawberry sundae.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

North Carolina, Crabtree And Raleigh



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Crabtree, Raleigh and Durham North Carolina







005of1 It is hotter than a firecracker in a tobacco barn as I leave the air conditioned comfort of my hotel for an afternoon stroll around Crabtree, North Carolina.







TobaccoBarn My Old Spice is working overtime as I head for a local favorite Mexican restaurant.






Crabtree 016 La Ranchera, located next to Best Buy at Crabtree Mall serves a pretty decent lunch which I enjoy while watching Chile and Spain in a World Cup match.





The temperature has dropped a few degrees as I join a path on the perimeter of the mall and set out on a hike for Shelly Lake.


Crabtree 002 The sounds of nearby traffic fades as I become surrounded by tall evergreens and a trickling stream as birds chirp over head.







Crabtree 001

Unaware of my presence a bunny rabbit hops across my path and disappears into the under brush. As if trying to impress me a squirrel soon appears and does a “Karate Kid” aka “Squirrel Kid” flying leap from the path onto a mound of dirt. I did not know ground squirrels could do that, I guess I am impressed.


Crabtree 006 Eventually I arrive at Shelly Lake a part of The City of Raleigh Greenway Parks and begin a counter clockwise hike around the 2.8 mile trail.





Friday afternoon and there is light competition along the trail with friendly joggers, walkers and ducks as we all enjoy the great outdoors.


Crabtree 010 A few ducks venture onto a crossing bridge for a chance to have an easy meal as a family dishes out bread crumbs.






Crabtree 011 Less adventurous ones stay at home in the water and get their manna from above.






As I make my return a flock of geese is feeding along the path and I attempt to blend in without wings for a close up photo opportunity.


Crabtree 014 They allow a few shots but don't accept me as part of the family. I am disappointed because I really wanted to learn how to fly.





Leaving rejected, I am rapidly approached by a scooter and practically out of breath I am told, “Don't go near the ducks, one time my family”. Then grasping for air “My family was attacked by ducks, and, and we had to, yeah we had to run back ..” More grasping, “Run back to the car”.


Crabtree 015 I am almost out of breath myself just listening to the warning and encourage my eight year old protector to sit down and tell the rest of his story. Satisfied that I will heed his warning, I can see he's content when I continue my hike.





Ebay 104 Not far from Crabtree, given the opportunity a visit to Duke University is worth the trip.







Ebay 101 I am fortunate to visit The Chapel during a rehearsal and as always the pipe organ is not only music to my ears but my soul as well.





Friday, June 25, 2010

California, I Love LA



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Even as the home of back to back NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers, there is still so much more to love about LA. Having spent much of what I consider my formidable years in California, I will always have a fondness for this city.

Today with beautiful weather I get to make a trip down memory lane with sometimes my only friend, “The City Of Angeles”.


LA 007

Leaving The Wilshire Grand Hotel, I am soon humming.. “Summer, summer fruits, it wouldn't be summer without them” as I encounter a Farmer's Market set up on the side walk of Figueroa.





Picture 518

Fresh samples of white peaches, nectarines and watermelon pluots (plum and apricot hybrid) and the old California Fruit Growers commercial rings as true as the first time I heard it.





LA 004 Given the opportunity don't miss the chance to dine at The Pantry. Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner it is a downtown LA tradition.






LA 002

A week or so behind schedule I pay homage to “The Zen Master” and “World Champions” before boarding the Number 16 Bus at Flower and 5th. Meet me at Fairfax and 3rd, I am on my way to Farmers Market.


LA 024 Established in 1934, Farmers Market although modernized keeps it's history alive with vendors, fruits and foods from it's past.






LA 023 With so many choices, multiple samplings is my only choice if I don't want to be rolled out of here.





A taco then a pork bun followed by an Arnold Palmer (half ice tea, half lemonade) along with a huge slice of Apple Coffee Cake with “real apples” from Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts makes my stomach jump for joy.


LA 013 BBQ Pork Bun







LA 018 Apple Cake And Arnold Palmer







LA 020

I agree with Los Angeles Magazine, Bob's gets my vote.


LA 025 In hopes of being discovered, I leave Farmers Market and although CBS Studios is next door I head for Hollywood.





Approaching a local school I am drawn to the sound of a bouncing ball and soon I am engaged in a two on two afternoon basketball game.


LA 030 Look Rasheed Wallace!

I am not sure why the comparison but I guess I don't mind.





LA 039 After one game my teammate an admitted smoker is exhausted, I am just getting fired up after a few lucky shots from downtown.





I hope my encouragement and energy level being almost … let's see (18 plus 30 divided by 2 plus square root of approximately 500) years older convinces him to reconsider the habit.


LA 028Rasheed getting schooled






Reaching Hollywood I am disappointed that I have still not been discovered. Is it because I am dripping with sweat (HOT) or just that today the studios don't need another Brad Pitt double?

Along Hollywood Boulevard I am as surprised as you are to discover that my talents have been proactively recognized and honored.


LA 041 I fight back the tears as I stand on my star and feel a commonality with Sally Field, “They Love Me”.I now know how Ms. Field felt. Oh, what a feeling!






LA 042 I share my good news with Shrek who is happy for me and we hope someday he will also have a star.








LA 045 Michael Jackson Star








LA 046

Hollywood Hills And Sign



LA 043 Chinese Theater






Not wanting to be in the spotlight too long, I spend just a short time among the other stars before going underground.


LA 047 Riding “The Metro”, I am excited to see Angelenos on a subway. Something that seemed like only a dream when I lived here many years ago.



With my dogs barking and parched from my afternoon outing I stop in a Rite-Aid Drugstore and find a pleasant surprise, an old fashioned Thrifty Ice-Cream store.


LA 049 For less than $2, a single scoop of Pistachio completes this trip down memory lane …. One more reason I Love LA!