San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Beautiful View of San Diego from  Cabrillo National Monument

Beautiful View of San Diego from
Cabrillo National Monument

Statue of Cabrillo

Statue of Cabrillo

Point Loma Lighthouse

Point Loma Lighthouse

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Overlook of Gray Whale "Highway"

Overlook of Gray Whale “Highway”

A popular place to visit near San Diego is Cabrillo National Monument.   At the park’s southern end are some of the most accessible tidepools in southern California.  The rocky trails there overlooking the Pacific Ocean are very scenic.  Nearby stands a statue of Juan Cabrillo overlooking beautiful San Diego Bay.  It commemorates his landing there in 1542.  At the top of Point Loma Peninsula stands the old Point Loma Lighthouse.  It was in active service from 1855-1891, but was retired because the light was often above the fog line and was thus invisible.  A short stroll from the lighthouse leads to the Gray Whale Overlook.  It is an excellent place to watch for whale spouts in winter. 

Emma Minter, who lived at the lighthouse as a child in 1878, said:  “What had I for playthings?  The nicest in the world!  Pretty shells, colored stones, kelp babies.  It seems to me that I can remember every day of my young life there.”  

Information on visiting Cabrillo National Monument is at:  https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm

Los Angeles: Disney Concert Hall

Disney Concert Hall

Disney Concert Hall

Understated Sign

Understated Sign

Soaring Architecture

Soaring Architecture

Narrow Passageway Through “Sails”

Narrow Passageway Through “Sails”

Photographer Reflections

Photographer Reflections

Glass Reception Desk

Glass Reception Desk

Lobby’s Wooden Support Columns Mimic Trees (designed to hide structural/mechanical equipment)

Lobby’s Wooden Support Columns Mimic Trees (designed to hide structural/mechanical equipment)

Pre-Concert Lecture Hall for “Talks with Maestro"

Pre-Concert Lecture Hall for “Talks with Maestro”

Concert Hall’s Massive Pipe Organ (nicknamed “Hurricane Mama”)

Concert Hall’s Massive Pipe Organ (nicknamed “Hurricane Mama”)

Close-up of Unique Curved Pipes

Close-up of Unique Curved Pipes

48-Foot Mural “Blue” by Peter Alexander

48-Foot Mural “Blue” by Peter Alexander

Rose Fountain Centerpiece in Garden Outside

Rose Fountain Centerpiece in Garden Outside

“A Rose for Lilly” Commissioned by Mrs. Disney's Children and Grandchildren

“A Rose for Lilly” Commissioned by Mrs. Disney’s Children and Grandchildren

Close-up of Fountain’s Delft Porcelain Mosaic

Close-up of Fountain’s Delft Porcelain Mosaic

Coral Tree in Blue Ribbon Garden

Coral Tree in Blue Ribbon Garden

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Near Triangular Doorway

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Near Triangular Doorway

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Flower

Hong Kong Orchid Tree Flower

When we visited Los Angeles, California, we attended a classical concert at the Disney Concert Hall.  The acoustics were incredible!  We sat front row center – so close to the musicians that we could almost read their music.  There is nothing quite like being that close to a full orchestra – it is unforgettable!  Lillian Disney commissioned the building in tribute to her late husband Walt to honor his dedication to the arts.

Before the LA Philharmonics concert, we went on an architectural tour of the building.  It was designed by Frank Gehry, who said the building’s billowing shape was meant to evoke a sailing ship.  Initially the stainless steel exterior was buffed to a mirror-like shine, but the shiny metal reflected too much heat, so the surface was changed to matte.

Inside the concert hall the acoustics are absolute perfection.  Douglas fir wood lines the walls and ceiling of the auditorium.  The cushions of the chairs are engineered to reflect sound in the same way whether people are seated in them or not.  The organ at the front of the hall contains 6,134 uniquely curved pipes (its nickname is “Hurricane Mama”).  The size of the pipes range from smaller than a pencil to as big as a telephone pole.

Outside the building, visitors can enjoy the public Blue Ribbon Garden (up a left staircase to the second level from the street).  The lush garden is a nice counterpoint to the modernistic building.  A centerpiece of the garden is a fountain designed for Lillian as a tribute from her children and grandchildren.  Its flower shape reflects her fondness for roses, and its composition reflects her passion for Delft porcelain.  Designer Frank Gehry commissioned 200 Delft vases from Holland at a cost of $34,000 to produce the thousands of pieces needed for the sculpture’s mosaic.  It took a team of 8 artists over 4 months to complete the lovely fountain.

When speaking of his work, Gehry said “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”

A fun TV show about the Disney Concert Hall by Huell Howser of “California’s Gold” is at:  https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2007/09/11/disney-concert-hall-downtown-111/

More info is at:  http://www.laphil.com/visit/tours

Long Beach: Art Deco Queen Mary

Queen Mary Beside Modern Day Cruise Ship (left)

Queen Mary Beside Modern Day Cruise Ship (left)

View on Top Deck of Ship

View on Top Deck of Ship

Queen Mary's Triple Stacks

Queen Mary’s Triple Stacks

Vintage Luggage Label

Vintage Luggage Label

Shipyard Room:  World's Longest LEGO Model Ship

Shipyard Room: World’s Longest LEGO Model Ship

Polished Brass Equipment of Helm

Polished Brass Equipment of Helm

Hydraulic Steering Wheel Turns 40-Ton Rudder

Hydraulic Steering Wheel Turns 40-Ton Rudder

Wireless Room (note antique microphone and inset rotary dial telephone)

Wireless Room (note antique microphone and inset rotary dial telephone)

Ship of Woods (56 species)

Ship of Woods (56 species)

Green Onyx Art Deco Style Clock

Green Onyx Art Deco Style Clock

Vintage Queen Mary Doll

Vintage Queen Mary Doll

Vintage Cunard Race Card (Neptune with his Trident Keeping Score)

Vintage Cunard Race Card (Neptune with his Trident Keeping Score)

Russian Attack Submarine Scorpion (berthed for tours beside ship)

Russian Attack Submarine Scorpion (berthed for tours beside ship)

The Queen Mary is an iconic ship that was built in 1934.   At the time she was the fastest and most luxurious ship in the world!  The beloved ocean liner sailed from 1936-1967 and is now permanently docked at Long Beach, California. Famous stars on her passenger list included Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, and Walt Disney.

The Queen Mary’s nickname is the “Ship of Woods”.   Fifty-six different kinds of wood are on display throughout her decks, including six that are now extinct.  Her grand art deco style makes her the perfect location to host the region’s annual Art Deco Festival: http://www.queenmary.com/events/art-deco-festival/.

A big celebration is planned today, May 26, 2016, for the 80th anniversary of Queen Mary’s maiden voyage:http://www.queenmary.com/events/80th-anniversary-celebration/.   

In April 2016 big plans were announced to bring her back to her former glory: 
http://la.curbed.com/2016/4/20/11467598/long-beach-queen-mary-renovation and to rejuvenate the entire area: http://la.curbed.com/2016/3/24/11299792/aquarium-pacific-long-beach-expansion.   Can’t wait to see the results! 

Los Angeles: Beautiful Getty Villa

Centerpiece of Collection:  Temple of Herakles Room

Centerpiece of Collection: Temple of Herakles Room

Intricate Yellow Floor Composed of 4,000 Separate Pieces of Marble

Intricate Yellow Floor Composed of 4,000 Separate Pieces of Marble

Mosaic Floor's Spinning Shield Motif with Head of Medusa in Center

Mosaic Floor’s Spinning Shield Motif with Head of Medusa in Center

Cube Design of Trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) Flooring

Cube Design of Trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) Flooring

Illusionist Vanishing Point Colonnade

Illusionist Vanishing Point Colonnade

Colonnade Ceiling Featuring Carved Wooden Flowers

Colonnade Ceiling Featuring Carved Wooden Flowers

Mosaic Circular Seating in Outer Peristyle Garden by Reflecting Pool

Mosaic Circular Seating in Outer Peristyle Garden by Reflecting Pool

Mosaic and Shell Fountain in East Garden

Mosaic and Shell Fountain in East Garden

Close-up of Shell Fountain

Close-up of Shell Fountain

Stemmed Cup with Seashells

Stemmed Cup with Seashells

Roman Fish Flask

Roman Fish Flask

Greek Pitcher with Lions and Panthers

Greek Pitcher with Lions and Panthers

Greek Mixing Vessel with Horses and Youths

Greek Mixing Vessel with Horses and Youths

Roman Gold Coin Belt with Emeralds, Garnets, and Sapphire

Roman Gold Coin Belt with Emeralds, Garnets, and Sapphire

Blue and Burgundy Ribbed Bowls with White Trails

Blue and Burgundy Ribbed Bowls with White Trails

Roman Tombstone Honoring Pet Dog Helena (150-200 AD)

Roman Tombstone Honoring Pet Dog Helena (150-200 AD)

The beautiful Getty Villa features antiquities of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria (6,500 BC – 400 AD).  It is tucked into a canyon along the California coast at Malibu/Pacific Palisades.  The Villa’s design was inspired by a 2000-year-old Roman country house that overlooked the Bay of Naples near Pompeii.  Many of the plants, trees, and fragrant flowers in the garden are the exact same cultivars that grew in the first century after Christ.  We visited the Getty Villa on the last day of our vacation and are so glad we did.  The artifacts and location are stunning – it makes for a wonderful day.  And the Café serves delicious Mediterranean food!  More info is at:  http://www.getty.edu/visit/villa/

Los Angeles: Getty Center and Gardens

Getty Center Campus

Getty Center Campus

Building's Curvilinear Design

Building’s Curvilinear Design

Giant Travertine Slab of Fossilized Reeds, Mosses, and Algae

Giant Travertine Slab of Fossilized Reeds, Mosses, and Algae

Travertine’s Fossilized Crystallized Bubbles Formed in Ancient Hot Springs

Travertine’s Fossilized Crystallized Bubbles Formed in Ancient Hot Springs

Natural Ravine and Tree-Lined Walkway of Stream Garden

Natural Ravine and Tree-Lined Walkway of Stream Garden

Blooming Bougainvillea Arbors

Blooming Bougainvillea Arbors

Central Garden Overlook of Getty Logo formed by Floating Azalea Maze

Central Garden Overlook of Getty Logo formed by Floating Azalea Maze

Flower Bowl Garden

Flower Bowl Garden

Waterfall into Floating Azalea Pool

Waterfall into Floating Azalea Pool

South Promontory Cactus Garden

South Promontory Cactus Garden

Close-up of Barrel Cactus

Close-up of Barrel Cactus

Van Gogh’s Irises Sold for $53.9 million in 1987

Van Gogh’s Irises Sold for $53.9 million in 1987

When we visited Los Angeles, California, last summer we toured the Getty Center and Gardens.  The $1.3 billion Center opened in 1997 and sits on a hilltop overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Featured on campus are the Getty Art Museum, outdoor sculptures and fountains, the Central Garden, and the Getty Research Institute.  Buildings are covered in white Italian travertine that comes from the same quarry used to build the Roman Coliseum (look for fossilized plants, marine life, and crystallized bubbles in the stone).  The architecture is stunning.  On a clear day the view extends from the mountains to the sea.  Indoor spaces emphasize the use of natural light.  Masterpiece paintings on display include those by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas.  

The ever-changing Central Garden is so exquisitely planned down to the last detail that it is registered as a piece of art in the Getty collection.  Even the way the soil is tilled is part of the master plan created by artist and designer Robert Irwin.  A fun television show called “California’s Gold” by Huell Howser features details and interviews about the garden: https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2008/01/13/getty-garden-californias-gold-10006/

The Getty Center was an all day excursion that far exceeded our expectations – it is a very impressive and amazing place to walk around.  It is a monument to both nature and culture.  And besides the parking fee, the Center is free!   Don’t miss this gem in Los Angeles.  More info is at:  http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/­­­­­

Catalina Island: Beautiful Tile Pottery

Orange Garibaldi Fish

Orange Garibaldi Fish Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Yellow Birds Tile

Yellow Birds Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Avalon, California, is famous for its historic Catalina tile. Pottery and tiles from 1927-1937 were made in Avalon from the island’s red clay and then glazed with local minerals. Vintage Catalina tiles are now a hot collector’s item. Tiles were decorated in four primary colors: Catalina blue, Descanso green, Toyon red, and Manchu yellow. Tiles often feature island scenes and animals, along with patterns and geometric shapes. Beautiful historic tiles and murals can be viewed throughout town, and reproductions are available in gift shops. In 2013 the City of Avalon celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Catalina Island’s Crown Jewel: 1929 Casino

Walkway to Casino

Walkway to Casino

Entrance to Casino

Entrance to Casino

Close-up of 18-foot-tall Catalina Tile Mermaid

Close-up of 18-foot-tall Catalina Tile Mermaid

Black Walnut Paneled Lobby with Seashell Theme Chairs

Black Walnut Paneled Lobby with Seashell Theme Chairs

22-Karat Gold Leaf Stars on Ceiling

22-Karat Gold Leaf Stars on Ceiling

Art Deco Avalon Theater (seats 1,154 people)

Art Deco Avalon Theater (seats 1,154 people)

Looking Toward Entrance Doors Inside Theater

Looking Toward Entrance Doors Inside Theater

1929 Exotic Peacock Mural in Theater

1929 Exotic Peacock Mural in Theater

California Desert Landscape Mural with Stylized Leaping Antelopes in Theater

California Desert Landscape Mural with Stylized Leaping Antelopes in Theater

Reproduction in 22-Karat Gold Leaf of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus Above Stage

Reproduction in 22-Karat Gold Leaf of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus Above Stage

Close-up of Intricate Design of Proscenium Arch Above Stage

Close-up of Intricate Design of Proscenium Arch Above Stage

1929 Page Pipe Organ in Theater (one of three in world and still in use today)

1929 Page Pipe Organ in Theater (one of three in world and still in use today)

Theater Projectors / Original Editing Room where Cecil B. DeMille Viewed Daily Island Movie Shoots

Theater Projectors / Original Editing Room where Cecil B. DeMille Viewed Daily Island Movie Shoots

Benny Goodman Poster

Benny Goodman Poster

World’s Largest Circular Ballroom (can hold over 6,000 people and has no support beams)

World’s Largest Circular Ballroom (can hold over 6,000 people and has no support beams)

Looking Straight Up at Tiffany Chandelier in Ballroom

Looking Straight Up at Tiffany Chandelier in Ballroom

Riding a Dolphin Design in Sterling Silver Leaf in Ballroom

Riding a Dolphin Design in Sterling Silver Leaf in Ballroom

Romance Promenade Overlooking Avalon Harbor

Romance Promenade Overlooking Avalon Harbor

Casino Fish Bar

Casino Fish Bar

Lyrics to Avalon, Sung by Al Jolson in 1920

Lyrics to Avalon, Sung by Al Jolson in 1920

Catalina’s historic Casino is the crown jewel of Avalon, California. Its name means “gathering place” or “entertainment” in Italian (it never hosted gambling). The Casino was built in 1929 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley and features the world’s largest circular ballroom. Benny Goodman’s Big Band music was broadcast live from there to a nationwide audience in the 1930s and 1940s. Movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Cary Grant, and more visited the Casino during that era. The ballroom is still in use today.  

The Casino reflects its island location through designs and furnishings with sea themes. The murals were painted over 3 months’ time by John Gabriel Beckman in 1929 (he had previously worked on murals at Grauman’s Chinese Theater). Murals outside above the main entrance feature ocean life, kelp forests, and an 18-foot tall Catalina tile mermaid. Murals inside the art deco Avalon Theater reflect California’s early history and environment. The Avalon Theater was used as a model to design the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The architecture of the Casino is amazing, and the setting is stunning!    (Click on any image for enlargement and more detailed information.)

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