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/­­­­­

Big Fuzzy Anhinga Babies!

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Female Anhinga

Female Anhinga

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Anhinga babies are so fuzzy!  The birds are nesting in the treetops now at the Viera Wetlands, Florida.  Anhingas are also known as water turkeys or snake birds (because of the way they stick their long necks above water when hunting for fish).  The babies sleep by tucking their heads over their backs and down into their feathers.  Their parents have quite a time feeding them.  Neat birds! 

Stunning Rainbow Spider Web!

Rainbow Spider Web

Rainbow Spider Web

Colorful Banded Radius Thread

Colorful Banded Radius Thread

Sticky Spiral Threads

Sticky Spiral Threads

Close-Up of Sticky Spiral Threads

Close-Up of Sticky Spiral Threads

Spiral Threads with Round Sticky Droplets

Spiral Threads with Round Sticky Droplets

Magnified Close-Up of Web's Diffraction Pattern

Magnified Close-Up of Web’s Diffraction Pattern

Have you ever seen rainbow colors in a spider web?   We NEVER had until now.  Richard photographed a spider web from below using a zoom lens already on the camera.  Sunlight was hitting the spider web from above, and the web was silhouetted against a dark background.  Magic!  (Click images to magnify for full effect.)  Rainbow colors appeared in the silk strands of the web.   When magnified later on the computer, the effect was stunning!  The colors result from the way sunlight is scattered by the spider web strands (it acts like a prism).  Diffraction patterns result from interference of the sun’s rays with the web’s sticky silk droplets.  Truly amazing and unique!

Florida: Orlando Eye Complex

Orlando Eye Observation Wheel

Orlando Eye Observation Wheel

View at Top of Wheel

View at Top of Wheel

View East with Lockheed Martin in Foreground. On a clear day without haze you can see east to Atlantic Coast and VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

View East with Lockheed Martin in Foreground. On a clear day without haze you can see east to Atlantic Coast and VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

View of Big and Little Sand Lakes Looking West Toward Orlando Theme Parks

View of Big and Little Sand Lakes Looking West Toward Orlando Theme Parks

View Looking West with Round Dome of Spaceship Earth Visible at Disney's Epcot

View Looking West with Round Dome of Spaceship Earth Visible at Disney’s Epcot

Zebra Moray Eel at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Zebra Moray Eel at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Wolf Eel Guarding Ball of 10,000 Eggs

Wolf Eel Guarding Ball of 10,000 Eggs

Green Moray Eel

Green Moray Eel

Queen Triggerfish

Queen Triggerfish

Lookdown Jack

Lookdown Jack

Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

Grey Reef Shark

Grey Reef Shark

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

Green Anemone in Pacific Rock Pool

Green Anemone in Pacific Rock Pool

Moon Jelly

Moon Jelly

Steve Jobs Figure at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Steve Jobs Figure at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

At 400 feet tall, the Orlando Eye is the tallest observation wheel on the East coast of the United States. It opened in 2015 and offers a beautiful 360 degree view of Central Florida. Thirty glass enclosed air-conditioned capsules are suspended from the wheel and slowly rotate at 1 mile per hour, completing the circle within 20 minutes. The wheel is lit up by 64,000 LED themed lights at night.

Other activities at the Orlando Eye Complex include the SEA LIFE Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The aquarium is active in the local community with marine conservation, rescue, and protection. Madame Tussauds’ brand has been in business for over 200 years. Each wax figure in the museum takes up to 8 months to complete, and is accurate down to the placement of each hair on the head. Clothes that the figures wear are either donated by the celebrities or accurately reflect what the celebrity owns. It is a fun place to visit, especially with guests. More info is at: https://www.officialorlandoeye.com/

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.)

Catalina Island: Wrigley Botanic Garden – Amazing Cactus!

Photographing the Garden

Photographing the Garden

Photographing 80 year old Barrel Cactus

Photographing 80 year old Barrel Cactus

Trail Past Cacti and Succulents

Trail Past Cacti and Succulents

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

Tropical Aloe (Quiver Tree)

Tropical Aloe (Quiver Tree)

Stone Aloe

Stone Aloe

Blooming Pachypodium

Blooming Pachypodium

Barrel Cactus "Face"

Barrel Cactus “Face”

Heart Shaped Opuntia Cactus Pad

Heart Shaped Opuntia Cactus Pad

Wrigley Memorial

Wrigley Memorial

View Down Canyon to Pacific from Wrigley Memorial

View Down Canyon to Pacific from Wrigley Memorial

Tile Arch of Memorial

Tile Arch of Memorial

Close-up of Tile Arch

Close-up of Tile Arch

Beautiful Catalina Tile on Memorial Walls

Beautiful Catalina Tile on Memorial Walls

Catalina Mule Deer

Catalina Mule Deer

One of our favorite activities at Catalina Island was visiting the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The idea for the 37-acre garden came from chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s wife Ada in 1935. She wanted to showcase a Desert Plant Collection. Many of the original cacti and succulents still thrive in the garden today. New plantings are focused on those unique to the Channel Islands – many are extremely rare or endangered.

The Wrigley Memorial contains beautiful examples of locally made Catalina tile. The memorial sits on a hill overlooking the Pacific.   Wrigley’s greatest legacy was his vision to protect most of Catalina Island in its natural state for future generations to enjoy. Over 88% of the island remains undeveloped and is under management by the Catalina Island Conservancy. More info is at: www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=Wrigley_memorial_and_botanic_garden

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