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12.30.2006 - 39 comments 

Even though a lot of people don't think of this shot as a typical Scottsdale shot, that is exactly where I got it from. I think of Scottsdale more as a place of BLING in the desert. Sort of like Palm Springs, California or Las Vegas, Nevada (without all of the casinos). But the reality is that I wanted to feel just a little WARMER right now.

What I really liked most about this shot were the desert cactus plants that were in bloom at the time. Also as a one time potential architectual student and big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, I also enjoy the architectural influence that he gave to this and the surrounding desert cities especially Tempe and Phoenix.

In 1937, the internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright set up his "winter camp" at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, creating what is now known as Taliesin West. Scottsdale, and the rest of Phoenix, have seen a huge influence from Mr. Wright. Many buildings throughout the area were designed by the famous architect. Today, there is a Frank Lloyd Wright memorial in Northern Scottsdale.

But even before the Anglo settlement and the influences of Frank Lloyd Wright, Scottsdale was a Pima village known as Va ai Sva on, meaning "rotting hay." Some Pima remained in their original homes well into the 20th century. For example, until the late 1960s, there was a still-occupied traditional dwelling on the southeast corner of Indian Bend Rd. and Scottsdale Rd. By now, however, all Pima have either moved into modern homes within Scottsdale (mainly in South Scottsdale), to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, or elsewhere.

The Hohokam's truly unbelievable (and many do not believe it?) legacy was in their creation of more than 125 miles (200 km) of canals to provide water for their agricultural needs. The remnants of this ancient irrigation system were adapted and improved upon in 1868 by the first Anglo company to stake a claim in the Valley of the Sun, when Jack Swilling set up the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company.

Twenty years later Scottsdale's future would turn sharply upwards, when a U.S. Army Chaplain, Winfield Scott, paid the paltry sum of $2.50 an acre for a 640 acre stretch of land where the city is now located. Winfield's brother, George Washington Scott, was the first resident of the town that was then known as Orangedale and later changed to Scottsdale in 1894.

In 1951 the Town of Scottsdale was officially incorporated with a population of 2000. Since then it has grown to a 2004 Census estimate of 221,792. It has grown to become Arizona's fifth-largest city, and one of its most celebrated. Scottsdale is commonly defined by its high quality of life, and in 1993 was named the, "Most Livable City," in the United States by the United States Conference of Mayors. This title is notoriously lampooned across the state since the cost of living in Scottsdale is quite high.

Scottdale is continually ranked as one of the premier golf and resort destinations in the world, with a sizable portion of tax revenue being derived from tourism. It is also home to the FBR Open Golf Tournament held at the Tournament Players Club, which carries the distinction of the best-attended event on the PGA Tour. The city continues to see rapid growth, mainly in the northern areas of the city. It also brings with it many of the snow birds that flock here every winter to escape the cold weather in the East and Midwest.

Scottsdale is a satellite city of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. Named by the New York Times as "The Beverly Hills of the Desert," Scottsdale has become internationally recognized as a premiere and posh tourist destination, while maintaining its own identity and culture as "The West's Most Western Town."

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears." -Glenn Clark Posted by Picasa


12.18.2006 - 56 comments 

I have actually posted a shot I took in my own backyard for this Christmas post. I thought I would also add some information about the Christmas tree itself to go along with the post and the picture. Few trees inside a house will ever look as beautiful (to me) as this one in my yard does.

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost 1,000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.

Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

My wish for all of you my blogging buddies is for a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you don't happen to be a Christian and don't believe that Jesus is the Christ, then take heart because his message was one of Joy, Love and Peace On Earth to all Men. He came to earth as a baby, grew into a man, lived a perfect life for all of our sins and then died as a substitutional atonement that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life. That is the TRUE JOY of the Season!

"For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." Jesus (Luke 9:55) Posted by Picasa


12.11.2006 - 25 comments 

Of all the sights I have seen, this one sort of sums up "getting back to the roots of our society." I knew one year when we took a vacation that there were a lot of things to do in Northern Indiana, but what I didn't know, was about the existence of a large Amish Community that lives in this area.

The quiet little village of Shipshewana is the one place where the pace of life is really slowed down and peaceful. Of course that could or could not appeal to all of us depending on the mood of the day, but (for us), it was a welcome relief from the daily stresses that a "modern lifestyle" can often present.

We not only saw many scenes like this one (I have captured here) along the byways of this area, but also one of the most unusual shots I got was of five of these buggies parked outside a local cafe. It made me feel like I had stepped back in time for about a century or two. The one thing that made the shot so unique was the fact that the buggy horses were tied up in front of the closed bank next door to the cafe that they all seemed to be having dinner in.

Shipshewana itself has a thriving tourist trade in all the little homemade artisan projects of the local Amish crafters. There are blocks and blocks of those things. Also there are some of the most HOMEMADE tasting food in the many local restaurants that it is hard to pick which one you want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner in.

Some of the other things that you can do there are things like these:Auction and Flea Market ~ Trading Place of America. Which is the Midwest's largest flea market.

The Blue Gate Theater ~ Riegsecker Marketplace. Which has outstanding entertainment! Southern gospel, comedy, bluegrass, country, and more. And go figure... it is even family friendly.

On the Boardwalk, you can take buggy rides to Amish farms, schools, furniture / buggy shops, and dinners. Bicycling and even river tubing trips, for the more adventurous.

The Courtyard of Arts is on Historic Morton Street and is a working Artisan Village. It has a resident historic blacksmith; egg carver; historic leatherworker; Amish basketmaker, rugs, hats; oil painter/teacher, canvas, slate, sleds. It also has visiting artists, musicians.

In Menno-Hof, we took a tour in which a Amish Mennonite story was told with inspirational and educational multimedia in historical and present day environments. As well as a New Amish room depicting daily life as it is today.

In Yoder's Shopping Center, there is the Mousetrap Puppet Theater at Davis Mercantile. It is touted as Family Fun! Featuring Marionette shows for children and adults. There is also a fantastic selection of puppets for sale.

Another popular thing to do there in Shipshewana is the Riegsecker Buggy Rides and Tours at Riegsecker Marketplace.Buggy and carriage rides leave regularly from that area. The Shipshewana Carousel at Davis Mercantile is a place that you can enjoy their 1906 Denzel Carousel featuring hand carved farm animals. They are not the usual horses that you would see on the standard carousel that you would see at a county or state fair.

We would love to go back there someday at Christmastime to enjoy what they call a "Country Christmas" in which they have (starting the beginning of November) put up thousands of Christmas Lights plus refreshments, music, demonstrations, decorations, giveaways, specials and more. A true winter wonderland, so they say. I can imagine with a couple of inches of fresh new snow, it would be just spectacular.

Shipshewana Town Center was really the center of all the activity in the area, but on out trip there, we rented a CD with a driving tour that got us away from the usual tourist places and into more of the country around there to see all of the beautiful farmhouses and picturesque Amish communities in that area. It is a place that we will not soon forget. Northern Indiana? Who knew?

"Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own country-men, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with travelled bodies, but untravelled minds." - Caleb Colton Posted by Picasa


12.04.2006 - 25 comments 

I took this shot while we were touring the city. It shows what a real metropolitian area Brisbane is. It also shows the river that the city is named after. As you can see from my photo, the city was very metroplian, but yet not as large as Sydney. There was also a bridge (the Story Bridge) there, that was designed by the same man who designed the world Famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Brisbane is actually the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Queensland, and and it is the third largest city in Australia. It has a population of just under 2.0 million and an urban agglomeration of over 2.4 million people. It is a city set close to the Pacific Ocean, and is situated beside the Brisbane River on plains between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range in south-eastern Queensland. (Ask me about Moreton Bay bugs sometime!) They aren't really bugs at all, but rather they are small little lobsters. The flesh of the Moreton Bay bug is reported to be unusually versatile, and can be cooked in a variety of ways, both sweet and savory.

The city of Brisbane was named in honor of Sir Thomas Brisbane, the city grew from a harsh penal colony established in 1824 at Redcliffe, 40 km to the north. The colony was moved to Brisbane in 1825 and free settlers were permitted from 1842. It was chosen as the capital of Queensland when it was proclaimed a separate colony in 1859. The city developed slowly until after World War II, when it played a central role in the Allied campaign as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur.

When people visit Brisbane, there are the "must-see" places? Where are theese places that give tourists a memorable view, an insight into the city, the history and the people of Brisbane. If time is your enemy when visiting Brisbane, try one or two or more of these top picks. Perhaps next time you’re here, you can explore the many other delights the city has to offer on a day trip around the Brisbane regions.

I have put together this little list of major things not to be missed while you are there:

Mt Coot-tha Lookout ~ Even if you only have an hour or so to spare, you can take the drive up to the top of Mt Coot-tha to get a view of the whole of Brisbane city. You’ll see the curves of the river, the lines of the freeway, the skyline of the CBD. Plus, on a clear day you can see south-west to the distant ranges, east towards Moreton Bay and miles in every other direction. Enjoy the facilities of a cafe, restaurant and lookout at the top.

South Bank ~ Where did people gather in Brisbane before South Bank was created? It’s hard to imagine the city without this destination. Every visitor to Brisbane will enjoy South Bank’s sandy beach, the open grassy picnic spots, the shops and dozens of eating places. There’s the cinemas, regular free live entertainment and many festivals and fireworks throughout the year.

The Cultural Centre ~ From here you can enjoy Queensland’s arts and theatre at the Cultural Centre, South Bank. Spend time at the Queensland Art Gallery, Sciencentre (especially popular kids), State Library of Queensland and brand new Gallery of Modern Art . Get tickets to see a play, opera, ballet or dozens of other performances at the Cultural Centre.

Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryVisitors from overseas will just love the abundant and easily seen Australian wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Hold a koala, feed a kangaroo, hear a talk about our reptiles – it all makes for a great day out. There’s no need to leave the city to experience our amazing animals.

A trip on the Brisbane River ~ Even locals love to get out on the Brisbane River and it’s so easy and cheap to do with a journey on the CityCat. For just a few dollars, you can take a cruise up and down the river, stopping where ever you like along the way – South Bank, University of Queensland, New Farm...The City Cats glide over the water and you’ll see million dollar houses. Travel under the Story Bridge (that I mentioned above) and get a whole new perspective. The ferry guide gives you more information about the city as you cruise along.

This boat trip up the river was actually very fun and helps you see the city from many diffent perspectives. We stopped at a place and had lunch as part of the tour we joined. Then we cruised back to where we had stated the boat ride. Brisbane is a very nice city and well worth the visit if you get up to Southern Queensland.

". . .the grand tour is just the inspired man's way of heading home." -Paul Theroux Posted by Picasa