Palm Springs: Giant Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines by Mount San Jacinto

Trio of Wind Turbines

Pair of Wind Turbines (author at base for scale)

Triple Exposure of Wind Turbines – Pinwheel Effect

Wind Turbines into the Distance

Wind Turbines in Desert Landscape

San Gorgonio Pass in Black and White

The San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs is one of the windiest places in California.  The area is famous for its huge wind farms containing over 4,000 wind turbines.  The largest blades measure half the length of a football field.  Currently engineers are working on a prototype that would have blades twice the length of a football field mounted on a tower taller than the Empire State Building!  Another post is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/california-palm-springs-wind-turbines/

Desert Art: Mirror House

Mirage House of Polished Steel

Kaleidoscopic Mirrored Interior

View of Palm Springs from Inside the House

Outside of House Reflecting Wind Turbines in Distance

Mirrored House Angles

Mirrored Corner Angles

Recently we enjoyed seeing some of the Desert X art installations on view throughout the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs, California (https://www.desertx.org/).  Overall the exhibition runs February 25 – April 20, 2017, but this exhibit will remain open until October 31st.

Artist Doug Aitken created this mirrored home of polished steel called “Mirage”.  Environment and home are blended together in this unique kaleidoscopic structure.  The view is said to be especially stunning at sunset and in moonlight.  This was a favorite and a real treat to see on the last day of our trip!

Desert Art: Mirrored Pillars

Curve of Mirrored Pillars

Pillar Row

Pillars Reflecting Sky

Authors’ Portraits in Pillars

When we visited Palm Springs recently, we were happy to see some of the Desert X art installations on view throughout the Coachella Valley (https://www.desertx.org/).  The exhibition runs February 25 – April 20, 2017. 

These pictures show a ring of mirrored pillars called “The Circle of Land and Sky” by artist Phillip K. Smith III.  I think it would be fun to have a couple of mirrored pillars at home in the flower garden!

California Hummingbirds

Male Anna’s Hummingbird’s Spectacular Pink Gorget Feathers

Female Anna’s Hummingbird on Nest

Two Tiny Eggs in Nest

Anna’s Hummingbird at Grevillea Flower

Costa’s Hummingbird’s Purple Gorget

On a recent trip to California we got lucky and saw some spectacular hummingbirds.  They are a favorite!  Hummingbirds are incredibly beautiful and full of personality.  In flight their wings beat at least 50 times per second, which sounds like a buzz when they zoom past you in the garden.  Forward flight speed reaches 30 mph, and dive speeds reach 60 mph! 

Hummingbird nests are constructed of plant material bound together with sticky, stretchy spider webs.  Lichens are attached to the outside of the nest for camouflage.  Mother hummingbirds lay two eggs.  Although each egg is less than ½ inch long and smaller than a jellybean, they represent as much as 10% of her body weight.  These little flying jewels are precious!  More fun facts about hummingbirds are at:  https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106   A live cam on Bella’s current active hummingbird nest is at: http://explore.org/live-cams/player/bella-hummingbird-nest

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! 

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