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9.27.2007 - 26 comments 

As we were on our way to Yellowstone National Park, at the end of this summer, we came across this part off Wyoming that looked like it belonged in either Bryce Canyon Utah or perhaps even Zion National Park. I found the beauty of all the red rock mountains around here to be just beautiful, in fact breathtaking. I took many pictures in this area, but I was anxious to find out more about the area which was somewhere between Lander and the lovely little college (Central Wyoming College) town of Riverton, Wyoming.

The 1.7+ million-acre Wind River Indian Reservation was established in 1864 through the Bridger-Teton Treaty with the U.S. government, and it is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. The Wind River Indian Reservation offers visitors a cultural peek into the history of two Native American tribes who now share the beautiful wide open spaces northwest of Lander.

Those of you who may be numismatists may remember the Sacajawea one dollar coin, as a dismal failure as almost all dollar coins have been since the abolition of the silver dollar. But you may not have know that Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian.

If you happen to be looking to discover more about Sacajawea, the Wind River Indian Reservation is the place to go. Near Fort Washakie you will find the grave of Sacajawea, her nephew Bazil, and a memorial to her son Baptiste. Many believe she returned to her Shoshone people in Fort Washakie where she died and was buried on April 9, 1884, by the Episcopal missionary, Reverend John Roberts.

While living on the Wind River Indian Reservation Sacajawea served as a translator for Chief Washakie in negotiations to establish the reservation and was often seen wearing one the peace medals given out by Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea Cemetery is located in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains where you will find the 13,569-foot Mt. Sacajawea.

Fort Washakie (also on the Wind River Indian Reservation) was once a U.S. military establishment frequented by members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, Fort Washakie is now the headquarters of the tribe's government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs agency. Fort Washakie is the only military fort named for an American Indian chief. Visitors will want to visit the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center at 31 Black Coal Street, where you will get an in-depth look into the history and culture of the Shoshone Tribe.

The Center, established in 1988, is housed in a National Registered Historic Building. Featured are exhibits of tribal cultural crafts and art, along with historical data and photographic collections. Treaty maps and agreements are also displayed there. Maps for self-guided tours are free, along with information about Chief Washakie and Sacajawea.

Also famous (as the chief of the Eastern Shoshone) was Chief Washakie. In 1840, Washakie became the principal chief of the Eastern Shoshone, a role he would fill until his death over sixty years later. Throughout his tenure he maintained friendly relations with the U.S. government, settlers, and other American immigrants.

Washakie always placed the peace and welfare of his people above all other concerns. In the 1870s Washakie served as a military leader of over 150 Shoshone men serving with General Crook in the campaign to return Sioux and Cheyenne bands to their assigned reservations. The campaign ended with Custer's ill-fated attack at Little Big Horn in 1876, an attack (which by the way), Washakie advised against.

Located approximately ½ mile from the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center, Chief Washakie Cemetery is the final resting place of the last chief of the Shoshone Tribe, Chief Washakie. Chief Washakie is buried in the older section of the cemetery. A large headstone marks his grave. When Chief Washakie died in 1900 at an age of over 100, Washakie received a full military funeral and burial, honoring his career in the U.S. Army.

As you can see from this photo I took, it is a uniquely beautiful part of the country, with quite a historical significance in the forming of the western frontier. The really sad thing about this area "for us" was that we were just really passing through and probably did not give the area it's true due! But if we ever pass this way again, we just might make it a "stop-over" for us!

"Wisdom begins in wonder." ~ Socrates


9.20.2007 - 29 comments 

Now really what trip to Southern California would be complete without a trip to the "Happiest Place On Earth" The Magic Kingdom and the home of that mouse named Mickey and the "REAL" Donald, Donald Duck! But what the heck is this picture of? Read on to find out.

I was actually in Disneyland when it opened back in 1955. I know... I know... I am older than dirt, but never the less, it's true I was there at Christmastime in 1955. But did you know that the first day that on the opening day at Disneyland was actually a disaster. So bad in fact that it is called "Black Sunday." As you think about the park and its success over the five decades plus since then, it doesn't seem possible that the "First Day" was such a mess.

But the truth about that day goes like this... On Sunday, July 17, 1955, invited guests arrived, and 90 million watched via a live television broadcast. The day is still known in Disney lore as "Black Sunday," and for good reason, as a guest list of 15,000 swelled to almost 30,000 attendees. Among the many mishaps; Local police dubbed the seven-mile freeway backup the worst mess they had ever seen. Rides and attractions broke down under the onslaught of guests, opening and closing periodically to make way for television crews. Fantasyland closed temporarily due to a gas leak.

Main Street's freshly-poured asphalt softened in the heat. Women wearing high heels sometimes left a shoe behind, stuck in black goo. Because of a plumber's strike, both restrooms and drinking fountains could not be ready by opening day. Walt opted for restrooms, leaving visitors hot and thirsty. Most reviewers declared the park overpriced and poorly managed, expecting Disneyland history to be over almost as soon as it began.

Walt Disney not only had a mess on his hands that first day, but he also had a tough time just getting the place built. When asked how he got the idea for Disneyland, Walt Disney once said he thought there should be a place for parents and children to have fun together, but the real story is much more complex.

In the early 1940s, kids started asking to see where Mickey Mouse and Snow White lived. Disney rejected a studio tour because he thought watching people making cartoons was boring. Instead, he thought of building a character display beside the studio. Artist-architect John Hench is quoted in the Disneyland News Media Source Book: "I remember several Sundays seeing Walt across the street in a weed-filled lot, standing, visualizing, all by himself."

Walt Disney and brother Roy mortgaged everything they owned to raise $17 million to build Disneyland, but fell short. ABC-TV stepped in, guaranteeing a $6 million loan in exchange for part ownership and Disney's commitment to produce a weekly television show.

When the City of Burbank denied a request to build near the studio, a crucial chapter in Disneyland history began. Disney engaged Stanford Research Institute, who identified Anaheim as the center of Southern California's future growth. Disney bought 160 acres of Anaheim orange groves, and on May 1, 1954, construction began toward an impossible deadline of July, 1955, when money would run out.

Do you happen to know what the cost to get into the park was in 1955? It was one dollar (which would be around $7.00) in 2007 dollars. But as many of you may know, you had to pay to go on the rides back then. On the day after Black Sunday, 10,000 members of the general public got their first peek at Disneyland. On the first day of its long history, Disneyland charged visitors $1.00 admission to get through the gate and see three "free" attractions in four themed lands. Individual tickets for the 18 rides cost 10 to 35 cents each. Walt and his staff addressed the problems, limiting daily attendance to 20,000 to avoid overcrowding. Within seven weeks, the one-millionth guest passed through the gates.

Our youngest son worked at Disneyland while in college and several of his high school buddies still work there to this day. Many people have made a life long career out of this summer job. This place is still magical to my wife and we couldn't wait for our grand-kids to enjoy the MAGIC of this Magic Kingdom.

So what does all of this have to do with the picture I have posted here? Well, I guess you would have to know, that this picture is actually from the Park that was spawned for the other Park. You see that in 2001, Downtown Disney, Disney's California Adventure and the Grand California Hotel all were opened for business. This photo seemed so much like a Post Card from a trip to California, that I just had to share it.

This picture is actually a sign on a building in the California Adventure Park right next door. It was our first trip to this Park, but we had a pass that entitled to enjoy both Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day. So here we are, 52 years after its opening day, doing exactly what Walt invisioned, because now you see... there IS a place where parents and children (and even grandchildren) can have fun together.

"I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral."
~ Walt Disney


9.14.2007 - 25 comments 

Laguna is one of those places that are hard to define in only one blog post. So I'll try and make it even worse by trying to put in just a couple of words, I would have to say that it is an "Artist Community" at the beach. But that really doesn't give justice to the place.

First of all (and perhaps MOST importantly)... it is the place I asked Mrs. LZ to be my wife (several decades ago now). So as this love story goes... we had a romantic dinner in a posh little underground cafe (La Cave) some hours before that and then we drove down to Laguna. While there, I suggested a little walk along the top of the cliffs over looking the moonlit Pacific Ocean. We went out on this little path (one of the most romantic places I could think of) for me to pop the question. I took her off to a gazebo above the cliffs in the area right above the tide pools (which are shown in the photo I have posted here). With such a romantic gesture as this, what else could she say but "YES"? Other than the proposal by me to Mrs. LZ, Laguna Beach is also known for its yearly "Festival of the Masters.”

For those of you who have never seen the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts "Pageant of the Masters,” let me try and explain that it is ninety minutes of "living pictures" - incredibly faithful art re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. It is presented in an outdoor amphitheater, with a professional orchestra, original scores, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition for the Pageant as the best presentation of its kind. The first time I saw it, I was really impressed with how ell the whole thing was done. As a boy I remember that all of our relatives from other parts of the country came to visit us in Southern California, they loved to go see the festival. It really is hard to believe that they could literally make those artist renderings actually come to life.

The actual city of Laguna Beach itself is not a very large city, but it sure does get crowded in the summertime. Other things that can be done there for very little money are things like; the Laguna Beach Heritage Tour. Which is actually a Self Guided tour where you can ride the bus and tour historic neighborhoods in North and South Laguna utilizing the free "Heritage Walking Companion to Self-Guided Tour Laguna Beach by Bus" brochure available on City buses, City Hall, and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

In order that you can learn more about the uniqueness of this quaint Artist community, you can also take the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Tour which includes the following areas: Willow Canyon, Dilley Preserve, Little Sycamore Canyon, and Laguna Heights. Rangers staff the park daily. They are Open daily, including holidays, from 7 AM until sunset. The locations are: Willow Canyon: Laguna Canyon Road, just South of the El Toro interchange. Open to hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers on specified trails. Dilley Preserve: Laguna Canyon Road, (just North of the 73 Freeway); Little Sycamore Canyon: Laguna Canyon Road, (just south of the I-405 interchange), Location of the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center; Laguna Heights on Alta Laguna Blvd at Top of the World, is the trailhead for West Ridge Trail and routes into Aliso and Woods Canyons Wilderness.

Just as an aside to the “Love Story” that happened in the aforementioned gazebo on the cliffs of Laguna, we even tried to re-live "OUR" moment on our visit there this summer too. We decided to have brunch in the legendary "Las Brisas" Restaurant. Las Brisas overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful Laguna Beach coastline and it has been a Southern California landmark since its inception in 1938 as the Victor Hugo Inn. The marriage proposal gazebo is just to the north of the Las Brisas grounds.

My grandparents (when they first moved to Orange County in 1944) used to stay here every year. It was however converted to Las Brisas in 1979; it has become a magnet for visitors from all over the world. But alas, even though we had a very romantic and extraordinary brunch there, when we went out to see the old Gazebo, we noticed that it was in fact still there right where we left it, but access to it was blocked by what looked like “CSI” crime tape (which actually turned out to be caution tape) from a paint job that had just been completed on it. But in spite of that fact, we had a picture taken there just to show us... the gazebo... and the crime tape! Just proves that "you can't re-create memories, but you can make new ones!

By the way, if you go to the link here, you'll actually be able to see "OUR Gazebo" on the far right of the second shot of the grounds of Las Brisas (as it scrolls by). You can't see the tape and there is no Historic Monument marking and celebrating Mr. & Mrs. LZ's engagement there, but at least you can see it! It is also smaller on the left hand side of the third shot (the night-time shot).

"The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart." ~ Helen Keller


9.08.2007 - 26 comments 

In moving yet further south on our trip down the Southern California coast, we made it down to Newport Coast. This also happened to be where we spent a week in the Newport Coast Marriott Villas. While the Villas were beautiful and the view from the villas was very pretty, it did not compare to the natural beauty of this beach.

When we lived here in Orange County, this area was not yet developed, but it sure is now. Lots of big named and wealthy folks around this area, but this park is still a State Park and as such has maintained its naturalness and beauty.

As you can see from this picture, this place was just alive with creatures and all sorts of stationary sea life like; sea urchins, mussels, sea grass and most of all, colors for us to enjoy.

Several mornings we would walk down there at just about sunrise to see all of the excitement of what is left in the tide pools (after that tide has receded) for several hours. We saw dolphins, pelicans, lobsters, seagulls, crabs, sea slugs, star fish and even an octopus on the beach while on our walks along the shoreline.

The Cove is actually a three-and-a-half mile long beach and 2,791 acres of wooded canyons, bluffs and trails. It is a haven for protected habitat as well as recreational users, including mountain bikers, joggers, hikers, and equestrians. The park is actually operated by the California Department of Parks & Recreation.

We saw several Park Rangers while we were there even in those early hours, (but even more of them) as we left the Cove after our walks. The interior is popular for hiking and horseback riding. Mountain bikers use the inland areas and divers use Crystal Cove underwater. The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. Visitors can explore tide pools and sandy coves just as we did. There was a charge to drive a car into the park, but we just walked in for free. No drinking water available; you must pack it in like we did.

Tent sites are a strenuous three-mile hike from the parking lot, away from the beach. Sites are primitive, but there are pit toilets available. A telephone was in the parking lot (just in case you forgot your cell phone I guess)?

We also saw that they are in the process of renovating some old beach houses at the south end of the park so that people can rent them out someday. I am not sure how the houses all got there and it may have been one of those "Right of Emanate Domain" issues, but I am sure someone will enjoy them someday when they are all fixed up. They looked a little rustic for my particular sleeping tastes, but that's just me!

There were signs around that said it was a protected environment and not to take anything from the beach. And as hard as that was to try and do, we left everything there except for the photos and the wonderful memories.(And as always), you can get a closer peek, by just double clicking on the picture.

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." - Celia Thaxter, American Writer


9.01.2007 - 23 comments 

Well this felt like being a teenager again... well at least until I looked around the beach and saw some real teenagers and then checked the lack of similarities in the construction of our bodies. That is where the feeling ended... But anyway… having grown up In Orange County, it felt like I was coming home again.

I took many shots of not only both the beach and the pier, but also of the tourists (like me) and the surfers. Even though I did not get out there on a surfboard, I was still able to remember what it felt like (oh... ) all those many years ago.

Boasting a comfortable climate throughout the year with a temperature that rarely gets above 90 degrees and seldom sees rainfall, visitors can take part in the many outdoor activities Huntington Beach offers. Their community features one of the largest recreational piers in the world, public parks, riding stables and equestrian trails, a marina, a wildlife preserve, and an even an eight-mile biking, in-line skating, jogging, and walking trail along the ocean. The crown jewel of their recreation system is the 8.5 miles of wide, spacious beaches where in the summer, large crowds gather to watch the U.S Open of Surfing, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball, Van's World Championship of Skateboarding and other sporting events.

As opposed to the days when I was a kid hanging out down here, the visitors to Huntington Beach now have a wide variety of to things to choose from when vacationing here. Huntington Beach has a variety of hotel accommodations ranging from dazzling, deluxe oceanfront resort properties to budget motels. There is also a wide range of dining options, with hundreds of restaurants offering everything from casual to fine dining here too.

Shoppers will find paradise in stores that range from local shops and boutiques to national chains and department stores. Huntington (as we always called it) is centrally located to relatively close to all major attractions in Orange County including Disney Resorts, the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Repertory Theater, and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.

Los Angeles is located 35 miles to the northwest (in case you either want to see the Getty Villa or the Getty Museum) and San Diego is only 95 miles to the southeast. Huntington Beach is conveniently located near three airports: John Wayne/Orange County (SNA), Long Beach (LGB), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Huntington Beach has consistently received recognition for being one of the best vacation spots in the U.S. ~ It has even been dubbed; "Number One Family Surf Beach in the U.S." - Dr. Stephen "Dr. Beach" Leatherman (2004), "One of the Top Five Destinations for Teenagers and Their Parents"- the New York Post (2004), “One of the Top Five Permanent Vacation Spots in the United States of America"- Location Inc.

With miles of pristine beaches, ideal weather, a welcoming attitude, and a wide variety of entertainment options, Huntington Beach draws over 11 million visitors to the city each year. Huntington Beach, known as Surf City, due to its abundance of beaches; sunny, warm Mediterranean climate; local surfing; and casual lifestyle, is a perfect vacation experience for both young and old.

Even though there is so much for visitors to do there now, the one thing I was really disappointed to see torn down was "The Golden Bear". It was a coffee house (as they were known then). They usually charge you to get in there, and then there was a two drink minimum which is where they made their money.

I can remember seeing Hoyt Axton but the club presented hundreds of performances by a wide swath of entertainers, including Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Garcia, B.B. King, Steve Martin, Dave Mason, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Robin Williams, Neil Young and the band Van Halen. Orange County home grown stars who used to play there when they were just starting out in their careers were names like, Jackson Brown, and Steve Martin. But as if those weren't enough, the Golden Bear's steady diet of old folkies, rockers and blues greats mixed with those of a younger generation to help establish Orange County's identity in the Los Angeles-based music industry. It contributed to a burgeoning underground scene that exploded in the 1990s with the commercial breakthrough of such Orange County-bred bands as No Doubt, the Offspring and Sugar Ray.

After our day relaxing and sunning on the beach, we decided to have some burgers, fries and milk-shakes at the “Ruby's Café” restaurant out of the end of this pier. After waiting a good deal of time (just to get inside the place), we decided we would take two tables close to each other instead of waiting "Who Knows?" how long to get a table large enough to accommodate the size of our group. The food was great (well considering it is a 60's styled Diner). Great shakes and fries, but we really did enjoy it and our whole day in Huntington Beach.

(once again as with all my photo posts, you can click on it to see a larger version!)

Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow. ~ Lawrence Clark Powell, American Librarian