Iceland: Dramatic Viking Movie Set and Black Sand Dune Beach

Viking Cafe

Viking Cafe

Viking Village Panorama

Viking Village Panorama

Approach to Viking Movie Set

Approach to Viking Movie Set

Viking Long House

Viking Long House

Viking Turf Houses

Viking Turf Houses

Viking Catapult

Viking Catapult

Viking Hut with Horns

Viking Hut with Horns

Black Sand Dunes and Misty Vestrahorn Mountain

Black Sand Dunes and Misty Vestrahorn Mountain

Richard and Dunes for Scale

Richard and Dunes for Scale

Dune Covered with Green Grass

Dune Covered with Green Grass

Sideswept Dune

Sideswept Dune

Windswept Dunes

Windswept Dunes

Single Blade of Grass in Black Volcanic Sand

Single Blade of Grass in Black Volcanic Sand

Departure on Stokksnes Exit Road

Departure on Stokksnes Exit Road

Mist Flowing Down Mountain

Mist Flowing Down Mountain

Mist Flowing Over Mountain

Mist Flowing Over Mountain

Descriptive Map of Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Area

Descriptive Map of Vestrahorn and Stokksnes Area

Viking Cafe Map of Area

Viking Cafe Map of Area

An especially great place for photography in southeastern Iceland is Vestrahorn Mountain.  Its 8-10 million year old gabbro and granophyre rocks are the remains of an ancient magma chamber of an extinct volcano.  To get to it, drive on Ring Road 1 about one hour east of Jokulsarlon and exit to Stokksnes (an old WWII radar base).  The exit is just before the tunnel entrance east of Hofn.  Drive about 3 miles on the dirt road until you reach the remote family-owned Viking Café and pay a small entrance fee. 

A short hike through this stunning landscape leads to a former Viking movie set.  This Viking village is going to be revived next year (2017) to film the new movie “Vikingr” by Universal Studios.  The movie is about epic Viking sagas by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur – watch for it in the future!  More info is at: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-iceland-viking-movie-baltasar-kormakur-20141008-story.html

Drive a very short distance in the other direction to the sea to photograph the black volcanic sand dunes and mist-covered mountains.  The dunes are shaped by the wind and topography.  This place is stunning and embodies the wildness and drama of the Icelandic landscape – the owners consider it Heaven on Earth

Iceland: Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon!

Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Beach

Stunning Jokulsarlon Ice Beach

Wave Crashing onto Ice

Wave Crashing onto Ice

Blue Iceberg

Blue Iceberg

Stunning Blue Ice

Stunning Blue Ice

Close-up of Blue Ice

Close-up of Blue Ice

Iceberg on Black Volcanic Sand

Iceberg on Black Volcanic Sand

Rippled Ice

Rippled Ice

Ice with Fish-like Shape

Ice with Fish-like Shape

 

Ice with Cat-like Shape

Ice with Cat-like Shape

Ice Completely Full of Frozen Bubbles

Ice Completely Full of Frozen Bubbles

Close-up of Ice with Volcanic Sand and Pebbles

Close-up of Ice with Volcanic Sand and Pebbles

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon

Striated Glacial Icebergs

Striated Glacial Icebergs

Long Exposure of Ice #1

Long Exposure of Ice #1

Long Exposure of Ice #2

Long Exposure of Ice #2

Long Exposure of Ice #3

Long Exposure of Ice #3

Long Exposure of Ice #4

Long Exposure of Ice #4

Jokulsarlon is one of those places you never forget.  The glaciers, icebergs, and crystalline ice on the volcanic black sand beach are stunning!  If the weather turns rainy, it only serves to make the blue ice even bluer (click on any of the images to enlarge).  If you visit Iceland, don’t miss this incredible place!   More info is at:  http://icelagoon.is/

California: Beautiful Catalina Island

View of Avalon from Hilltop

View of Avalon from Hilltop

Avalon Harbor

Avalon Harbor

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen’s Hummingbird

Vintage 1930s Catalina Luggage Label

Vintage 1930s Catalina Luggage Label

Catalina Island has been famous as an island getaway for southern Californians for over 100 years.  Early advertising boasted “In all the world, no trip like this!”  In 1957 the Four Preps sang “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me”.  Dick Clark dubbed it the first surfer song, and Brian Wilson said it was a major influence on the Beach Boys.  A fun LA Times article about the song is at:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-socal15jul15-story.html.

The maritime distance from the Los Angeles mainland to Catalina Island is actually 22.3 miles, which is easily traversed these days by high speed ferry.  In 1894 messages were sent there via Carrier Pigeon Service.  Notes were printed on tiny oilskin squares, rolled up, and placed into little canisters on pigeon legs.  Within an hour a pigeon could complete the ocean crossing and deliver the message – twice as fast as steamships at the time!  By 1902 the service ended when wireless messaging became available.  We were charmed by the island’s beauty and landscape.  Visitor information is at:  http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/.

California: Stunning Glass Church

Wayfarer's Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Wayfarer’s Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Garden at Front of Chapel

Garden at Front of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Bell Tower

Chapel Bell Tower

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

The Wayfarer’s Chapel is a beautiful church for people of all faiths in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.  A natural cathedral is formed by redwood trees arching over the chapel’s clear glass walls.  The chapel is a place of meditation with emphasis on the harmony of the natural world with the inner world of mind and spirit.  Only natural colors and materials were used in building the Chapel, such as sky blue on the bell tower, green on the floor, and local wood and stone.  The sanctuary and garden sit on a hill overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean.  The overall effect is stunning!  This Swedenborgian church was designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright).  Wright believed in the principle of “organic architecture” – creating buildings in harmony with the environment, including repetition of patterns in nature such as those found seashells and trees.  The Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular place for weddings.  One of the most famous Swedenborgians was Jonathan “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, who distributed church literature while planting trees across the American Midwest.  Info about visiting the Chapel is at: http://www.wayfarerschapel.org/

New York: Inspiring Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Liberty Island

Liberty Island

Statue of Liberty on Pedestal Base

Statue of Liberty on Pedestal Base

Closeup of Crown

Closeup of Crown

Internal 22 Story Spiral Staircase to Crown (reserve crown tour months in advance)

Internal 22 Story Spiral Staircase to Crown (reserve crown tour months in advance)

Lifesize Replica of Face in Museum

Lifesize Replica of Face in Museum

Full Scale Replica of Foot

Full Scale Replica of Foot

Original Torch

Original Torch

Statue of Liberty Themed Clock

Statue of Liberty Themed Clock

Statue of Liberty Themed Menorah

Statue of Liberty Themed Menorah

Statue of Liberty Themed Plate

Statue of Liberty Themed Plate

Statue of Liberty Themed Glass Lampshade

Statue of Liberty Themed Glass Lampshade

Statue of Liberty Themed Coin

Statue of Liberty Themed Coin

Ornate Ellis Island

Ornate Ellis Island

Inside Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Inside Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The Statue of Liberty is magnificent close up!  It was a gift from the people of France in 1886.  Unless you visit, you may not realize that she has broken shackles of tyranny at her feet and she is stepping forward to freedom.  Miss Liberty has 7 points on her crown to signify each of the 7 continents.  She holds a torch to light the way, and her tablet is inscribed with the American Declaration of Independence (dated July 4, 1776).  Because of deterioration, the original torch was replaced in 1986 – just in time for the centennial celebration.  The new torch is covered with thin sheets of 24K gold leaf.  Live views from the Torch Cams are at:  http://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. The original 1886 torch has been restored and now sits on display in the museum in the statue’s base pedestal.  The width of the copper exterior of Miss Liberty is less than 2 pennies thick.  The copper’s green patina results from weathering and acts as a protective coating.  Her official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”.  She is iconic in America, and an inspiring monument to freedom and hope to people around the world! If you would like to visit, more info is at:  http://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm.

Miss Liberty was the first thing over 12 million immigrants saw when they came to America and passed through Ellis Island between 1892-1954.   The main building has been restored beautifully (1984-1990) into the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.  If you would like to research your own family history by searching the free passenger archives at Ellis Island, go to:  http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

New York: One World See Forever Observatory

Reflective Glass Surface of Tower

Reflective Glass Surface of Tower

Looking Up at One World Trade Center

Looking Up at One World Trade Center

Glass Windows Looking Over Hudson River

Glass Windows Looking Over Hudson River

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in Distance

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in Distance

View North of Manhattan Skyscrapers

View North of Manhattan Skyscrapers

Sign Detailing Manhattan Landmarks

Sign Detailing Manhattan Landmarks

One World Trade Center in Skyline

One World Trade Center in Skyline

Memorial Pool and Waterfall within Footprint of Fallen North Tower of World Trade Center

Memorial Pool and Waterfall within Footprint of Fallen North Tower of World Trade Center

Remains of "The Sphere" which Stood at Original World Trade Center Site.  Endures as a Symbol of Hope.

Remains of “The Sphere” which Stood at Original World Trade Center Site. Endures as a Symbol of Hope.

Cool Globes Exhibit at Battery Park

Cool Globes Exhibit at Battery Park

Details of Children's Globe

Details of Children’s Globe

I couldn’t visit New York City without seeing the new One World Trade Center, which opened in October 2014.   Including the spire, the building is the tallest in the Western hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world at 1,776 feet (a reference to the year the United States signed the Declaration of Independence). The glassed-in One World Observatory on floors 100-102 offers magnificent views of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the distance. The See Forever Observatory opened on May 29, 2015, and the smooth elevator ride up takes only 60 seconds. Info on visiting is at: https://oneworldobservatory.com/

Florida: McKee Gardens During the Holidays

Florida Christmas Decorations at Historic Hall of Giants

Florida Christmas Decorations at Historic Hall of Giants

Natural Tree with Birdhouse Ornaments

Natural Tree with Birdhouse Ornaments

Presents with Natural Decorations (dried lotus pods and wasp nests)

Presents with Natural Decorations (dried lotus pods and wasp nests)

Snowman on Luminaria Pathway

Snowman on Luminaria Pathway

Fabric Pandas Playing in Bamboo Forest

Fabric Pandas Playing in Bamboo Forest

Fabric Panda Standing Beside Bamboo

Fabric Panda Standing Beside Bamboo

Entrance Pond with Floating Flowers, Goldfish, and Bullfrog

Entrance Pond with Floating Flowers, Goldfish, and Bullfrog

Orange Fabric Goldfish and Flowers

Orange Fabric Goldfish and Flowers

Fabric Goldfish and Inflatable Bullfrog on Pond

Fabric Goldfish and Inflatable Bullfrog on Pond

Giant Inflatable Bullfrog on Pond

Giant Inflatable Bullfrog on Pond

Orange Fabric Goldfish at Pond

Orange Fabric Goldfish at Pond

Glass Ball Sculpture and  Floating Orange Fabric Flowers

Glass Ball Sculpture and Floating Orange Fabric Flowers

Floating Pink Fabric Flowers and Grasses

Floating Pink Fabric Flowers and Grasses

Purple Orchid and Pink Ginger

Purple Orchid and Pink Ginger

Balloon Plant

Balloon Plant

Zebra Longwing Butterfly on Red Salvia

Zebra Longwing Butterfly on Red Salvia

We always enjoy visiting McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida, over the Christmas holidays.   The decorations are beautiful in December, and the flowers are always blooming!

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