Truckee-Tahoe Trip

Truckee-Tahoe Trip

Recently we enjoyed a visit for a week at Truckee, California in the North Lake Tahoe area. It’s a great place to visit in the winter with all the ski areas such as Northstar, Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Tahoe Donner, and Soda Springs. However, it might be even better during the summer with so much to do.

The weather was perfect all week, except for some wildfire smoke in the area on the last day, and we went hiking most every day. I have included my photos.

Prosser Lake – Truckee

These are photos of Prosser Lake from the deck of my sister-in-law’s house in Truckee where we stayed all week. It was a lovely place to have breakfast in the morning, as well as dinner and wine in the evening. It got a little too warm in the afternoon especially with the sun being so intense at about 6,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The temperatures were higher than normal for July, but it still got down in the upper 30’s overnight. Truckee frequently has the coldest US temperature in the summer. Truckee was named #16 of the World’s 25 Best Ski Towns by NationalGeographic.com.



West Shore Cafe – Lake Tahoe

We celebrated my birthday with a nice lakeside lunch at the West Shore Cafe which overlooks Lake Tahoe.

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Tahoe Rim Trail – Tahoe City

After lunch we went for a hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail west of Tahoe City on the edge of Lake Tahoe. Actually the 165-mile trail completely circles all of Lake Tahoe, but we only went for about an 1 1/2 hours. It shares about 50 miles with the much longer Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail through California, Oregon, and Washington for 2,659 miles from Mexico to British Columbia. It’s on the back side of the Alpine Meadows ski area just south of Squaw Valley, site of the 1964 Winter Olympics.





 Donner Lake – Truckee

On another day we took a hour-long hike along Donner Lake in the Donner Memorial State Park. It was a nice shaded trail with views of the lake, kayaks, rocks, and surrounding mountains.







Legacy Trail – Truckee

For another day, we took a 4 mile 90-minute hike on Legacy Trail along the Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe, which flows through Truckee and down to Reno. In addition to the meandering river, it included lovely vistas of meadows, boulders, wildflowers, snow-capped mountains, and a passing railroad freight train.





















Tahoe Rim Trail – Brockway Summit

We hiked another day for 2 1/2 miles (83 minutes) at Brockway Summit on the Tahoe Rim Trail on the north side of Lake Tahoe, above Tahoe Vista and King’s Beach. The trail is about 7,200 ft in elevation, although it was smoky that day from fires along the Pacific coast of California so it’s hard to see Lake Tahoe beyond the trees.

The smoke was coming from the large Soberanes fire near Big Sur and Carmel Valley in Monterey County. It has now burned about 30,000 acres over 50 square miles with at least 57 homes destroyed so far and 2,000 threatened, and it’s still only 15% contained after burning now for 9 days.



















Bocce Ball & Pizza

One afternoon we played bocce ball for about 45 minutes before dinner.


Then I made a vegetarian pizza from Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough, and it turned out pretty good. Of course, I had to wear the silly chef’s hat that my sister-in-law placed on my head. There’s a margherita pizza already cooking in the oven that my brother-in-law made, and an unfinished 2000-piece puzzle on the table.


Of course, we did some walks, shopping, and other activities, but I didn’t take any photos there. It was a fun relaxing week.

Bella Vista Ranch

Bella Vista Ranch

For this Writing 101 assignment we were to write about one of four images (City at night, Map, Window, Mid-air jump) as the spark of our inspiration. I selected the Map since it was critical for a recent day trip so I thought I might do a travel post with some photos.

The Map

Without a Google Map to guide us into the Hill Country near Wimberley, Texas, we never would have found Bella Vista Ranch, where we wanted to taste their wines and olive oils.

Olives

There are over 1,200 olive trees in the orchard for First Texas Olive Oil Company, which were initially planted in 1998. The Texas Hill Country soil and weather is similar to the Mediterranean, and they have been successfully producing fresh olive oil using their own frantoio (olive pressing facility) every year since 2001.

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Their olive oils include:

  • Texas Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresco Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • Alfresco Garlic, Basic & Perman Dipping Olive Oil
  • Afresco Lime Blended Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Alfresco Roasted Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Alfresco White Truffle Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Meyer Lemon Blended Extra Virgin Olive Oil

They also have various cured huge Sevillano olives stuffed with garlic, jalapeño, pimento, blue cheese, or combinations. Also available are raspberry, blackberry, fig & vanilla, or traditional balsamic vinegars. Additional offerings are blackberry, raspberry, or fig jams, as well as blackberry wine jelly, and raspberry chipotle sauce. Finally, there are spice pear, fresh mint, or good earth Virgin Soaps, which are a pure Castile soap containing olive oil as a base. They can also customize gift baskets for special occasions.

Vineyard

Their winery Bella Vista Cellars produces a range of Italian varietals, as well as blackberry wine. Here are some of the vineyards where they grow Viognier and Cabernet Franc. Available wines also include several blends: Texas Sunset, Texas Sunrise (dry rose), Dos Cabs, as well as Syrah. They have partnered with VinoShipper.com to process online orders. It’s very pretty out here in the hill country where they are located.

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Tasting Room

They have a fairly small tasting room available where you can do tastings of both their olive oils and wines. They provide orchard tours and formal tastings on Saturday at 10am & 1pm, as well as Sunday at Noon ($15 fee). However these were not available on their Labor Day special opening.

After our tastings, we decided to purchase the Viognier wine and Blood Orange olive oil to take home to enjoy. Actually we enjoyed salmon drizzled with blood orange olive oil tonight for dinner. Of course, we’ll have to come back again for more.

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Wimberley

IMG_7542We also stopped at Wimberley Square in the downtown, where there are many shops and restaurants. This large colorful decorated boot was just outside the Cypress Creek Cafe, where we decided to have lunch. Unfortunately, since it was very busy because of the Labor Day holiday, we had a long wait for our food to be served; actually somehow they lost our order ticket, but at least our lunch was free because of our inconvenience.

Maybe we would have had better luck at Wimberley Cafe right nearby on the square. There is the Ino’z Brew & Chew restaurant across the street next to Cypress Creek, although we didn’t know it at the time. Another option is Marco’s Italian Restatement & Pizzeria.

This was a very pleasant little afternoon outing for the day. I had a fasting diabetes lab test in the morning, followed by breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. Then we thought it would be fun to take a little ride and visit one of the many nearby wineries. After considering several of the ones where haven’t been yet, we thought the it would be nice to try Bella Vista Ranch. That was a great choice, and we plan to visit again. If you’re in the area, check them out.


This was the Day 4 assignment “A story in a singe image” for the Blogging U. course Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration, which provides writing prompts to “cultivate a daily writing habit and find inspiration in unexpected places”.

I hope you enjoy my blog and follow these daily writing assignments and other posts. Thanks for visiting today.

Rhine Cruise

Rhine Cruise

Recently, we enjoyed the Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises. It was an 8-day cruise along the Rhine river in Germany, which includes Basel (Switzerland), Breisach (Black Forest), Strasbourg (France), Heidelberg & Rüdesheim, Middle Rhine (Castles) and Koblenz, Cologne, Kinderdijk and Amsterdam (Netherlands). This travel post kicks off a series about the cruise featuring my photos for each destination.

For another two weeks after the cruise, we extended our trip through Germany where we spent several days each visiting Amsterdam, Munich & Bavaria (Royal Castles), Salzburg (Austria), Romantic Road (Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber), Leipzig (wife’s grandmother birthplace), and Berlin (nephew and family). I will also continue the travel photo posts for our Germany Trip.

I wrote a poem as a limerick with alliteration about our journey for the Poetry 201 workshop in February when we were planning our trip:

Germany is a journey to enjoy that I would choose.
Flying overnight to Europe offers time for a snooze.
Oh, I am so excited …
so much fun …
now that we’re both booked aboard a Viking River Cruise!

It was a wonderful three weeks, with lots of opportunities for photos and travel blog posts. I took almost 4,000 photos, but have filtered that down to about 1,000 so far. Also, I established a photo web site to store, organize, and view my photos. It has taken me longer than expected to get it together, but now I think it’s ready.

Although I will continue working on further refinement, I didn’t want to delay my posts any longer. For example, I probably need to reduce the number of photos in the homepage slideshow, and maybe even the destination highlights too. Any suggestions for improvement are welcome and certainly appreciated.

Also, I thought it might be interesting to provide some additional information from the Viking web site for additional background on our cruise about the itinerary, longship, and experience.

Links

These links provide an overview of our itinerary and ship.

Videos

Here are some brief highlights of the Rhine cruise from Amsterdam to Basel (reverse direction).

“Rhine Getaway” on Viking River Cruises – 45 sec

 

This provides a tour of a Viking Longship and the experience:

“Viking Longship Tour” on Viking River Cruises – 2 min 44 sec

 

This offers brief general highlights of Viking cruises:

“The World of Viking 2015” on Viking River Cruises – 1 min 32 sec

 

Cabin on Blueberry Hill

Cabin on Blueberry Hill

In April before our trip to Germany, we went on a short getaway to a log cabin in east Texas at the Etheridge Farm Bed & Breakfast in Kountze, which is located in the Big Thicket National Preserve north of Beaumont. It sounded like a good idea when we made the arrangements to meet friends who were neighbors when we used to live in the Dallas area. We made the reservations and agreed to meet there and stay for three nights.

Brenham

We stopped for lunch in Brenham, which is about halfway between Austin and Houston on US 290. We ate at Yumm! Sweets & Eats right on the square across from the courthouse, which was a nice place to stop, and my soup and sandwich was very good. On the way to the restroom on the sweet shop side of the place, I spotted this bicycle all lit up with white lights and had to take a photo, which really turned out pretty good.

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While we were finishing our lunch, we noticed there was a guy across the street by the courthouse cleaning up stuff on the grounds, but he was dressed in orange stripes with a guard nearby that had a gun in a holster. Then we realized that they must be having the prisoners in the jail doing some work in the community.

Then a little later a county sheriff pulls up right in front of the window where we were sitting. He got out of his car and walked around the back to the rear door where he let out another man who was dressed in grey and black strips with handcuffs holding his wrists together. The sheriff escorted across the street over to the courthouse, so I assume that he must have been transported from a county facility to appear in court for a trial.

Usually there are lots of wild flowers around the Brenham area, but we didn’t get any photos this time since we were trying to meet out friends and didn’t want to linger too long. Also, it was somewhat overcast that day so the photos might not have turned out that good anyway.

Brenham Ice Cream is also located there and that’s a fun place to stop. We’ve taken the tour in the past, which was very interesting. Since they recently have had some issues with listeria contamination that is now being addressed, we decided not to get any ice cream this time.

Cabin

I have included some photos that I took of our litle Cabin on Blueberry Hill. It’s named that because you can pick your own blueberries there on their farm, and in fact there were a bunch of blueberry shrubs growing just to the left side of the cabin.

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Porch

IMG_3637There was a covered front porch with a swing at the end. Also, we noticed there were carpenter bees flying around and into holes they had burrowed into the wood beams above, and we were so sure about them although the owner told us that they will not bother us (and they really didn’t).

IMG_3641There was a cute little sign for the Cabin on Blueberry Hill, along with the obligatory Texas star hanging on the wall of the porch next to the front door. The overhead light was helpful too since it gets very dark out there at night, and they also provided some flashlights as well as if we needed to get around at night. For example, we had dinner in the main farm house the first night and needed to find out way back to the cabin after dark. Although they had a string of lights across the trees leading to our cabin, it was helpful to see where you were stepping too. You can see how they applied the logs over the former barn so it wasn’t really an original log cabin, but an adapted barn with a log veneer siding. They had lots of old stuff (“antiques”) throughout the cabin, including these things on the porch.

IMG_3639However, I don’t think the oil lamps or lanterns actually had wicks so they didn’t work. But they did leave bug spray which was helpful because there are lots of mosquitoes in this part of Texas since it’s more humid, and there are ponds nearby and quite a bit of standing water on the farm in places.

Bedrooms

There were two bedrooms, but they were not enclosed like I had imagined. They were open at the top and there was only a hemp weave cloth covering the entry (no door) that you could criss-cross to cover it at least. But you could hear everything in the cabin (like our friends in the other bedroom). Our room had two twin beds so our friends could have the other one with the king bed (because they’re larger than us).

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Entry

Inside the front door, there were several storage cabinets and entry way with steps down into the main living area. The bedrooms are the left and right. Also there was a little writeup about “The Cabin on Blueberry Hill” on the side wall.IMG_3653

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Living area

The owner told us that this cabin used to be a barn, and it was converted into a log cabin. The chickens were where the bathroom is now on the left side. The horses were in the kitchen area where there was a small refrigerator, microwave, sink, and stocked cabinet with utensils and supplies.

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There was this interesting newspaper advertisement with old-time prices on the wall in the kitchen. IMG_3664

Living room

There were several chairs available for sitting in the main part of the living area, with a dinky 12″ TV available with only local channels. Another negative was the lack of WiFi in the cabin or even a cell-phone signal which was frustrating. If you went outside you could get access to a 4G data network for internet as well as cell phone, but not inside. However, I figured out I could get a cell signal near the window in the bathroom so I setup a personal hotspot on my iPhone which provided me a temporary WiFi network inside the cabin which I used from my Mac laptop to access the internet.

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Cotton

The owner had several dogs that occasionally roamed the property. One of them apparently likes to catch rabbits, and we spotted some guts along the path near the cabin that one of the workers told us was a rabbit that the dog must have caught and ate the rest. We asked him if he could please clean it up so we wouldn’t have to look at it going to/from breakfast in the main house, which he did for us. Also, there was a cute little white dog that kept coming around, especially at happy hour in the evening, looking for attention (and handouts). Apparently, he belonged to a neighbor but comes over here often (we saw him every day). We had to give him some Cheetos.

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Hiking

We went hiking on several trails in the Big Thicket which was nearby and scattered all over the area in various sections.  There were large pine trees with lots of pine cones on the trails, as well as pretty wild flowers like the thistle.

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Pitcher plants

Big Thicket has four carnivorous plants which eat insects – pitcher plants, sundews, bladderworts, and butterworts.  Of particular interest, we were interested to see the pitcher plants and we saw many of them on the Pitcher Plant Trail. We also walked the Sundew Trail but did not notice any sundew plants.

Pitcher plants are passive plants that do not use movement in the capture and digestion of insects. They  capture insects by luring them to the mouth of the trap with color, nectar, and/or scent. After an insect lands on the lip of the flower and begins to enter the mouth, it comes to a waxy inner surface that causes it to slide down the funnel. Downward pointing hairs lining the lower portion impede their ability to climb back out of the plant’s trap. The bottom of the pitcher is filled with a fluid that drowns them and then because it contains digestive enzymes, decomposes the proteins and soft body parts so that it can be absorbed into the plant for nutrition. Only the insect’s exoskeleton remains.

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Meals

Each morning we enjoyed a lovely home-cooked country breakfast in the lodge dining room that was prepared by the owner, Ann Ethridge, along with guests who were staying in other cabins. Also, we chose to have dinner the first evening as well, and it was very good also. The second night we drove down to Beaumont where there were lots of choices for dinner. She was very hospitable and friendly, and runs the place herself with some additional help for maintenance, etc.. Although she is in her 80’s, she seems quite active and handles  everything quite well since her husband passed away several years ago.

Shortened Visit

We were planning to play golf at a course nearby, but unfortunately we went back home a day early because our friend was having some medical issues. Almost immediately after we arrived, he started having problems with strong allergy-like symptoms which caused him breathing problems and discomfort. It became even worse overnight and he was not able to sleep much. In fact, the second night he spent most of it in the recliner in the living room since it was worse lying down. He uses a CPAP machine to help him sleep during the night because of his sleep apnea, but because his nose was so stopped up he could barely breathe when it was on. Also he had heart bypass surgery in the past and takes pills for his heart as well as anti-depression medications, but he forgot to bring them along with him on the trip.

Because the rooms were not completely enclosed, his breathing problems (and related complaints) prevented us from having a peaceful night as well since it was interrupted many times because of his situation. He was convinced that there was something in the cabin that was causing it, although we didn’t have any problems. So our friends decided they wanted to go back home earlier than planned, and we also decided to leave as well since we had intended to spend the time with them. The owner was very understanding and didn’t even charge us for the extra day. When he returned home, his symptoms seemed to disappear, so we don’t really know what caused him to have the problems that he did. Anyway our visit was shorter than planned.

Travel Considerations

Although it was nice to see them, we’re starting to realize that traveling with them might not work out. Also they have physical limitations that even makes walking somewhat difficult, and we really like to be active, so we can’t enjoy many things with them anyway. We have tried quite a few getaways with them in the past several years, but each time there have been some issues because of their limitations. After each trip we have realized that it might not have been a good idea, but then we have tried it again with similar results. But this time, we couldn’t even sleep very well ourselves because of their breathing noises, night conversations, and depressed mood.

Rustic Wine Dinner

Rustic Wine Dinner

Last night we attended a Rustic Wine Dinner at Flat Creek Enoteca in Marble Falls, TX. from 7-9 pm.  They offer a wine tasting room and casual dining experience with deli-style ordering, but table service at the communal table is provided by the wine staff for these special dinners every Thursday evening.

Enoteca is an Italian word which literally means “wine repository”, but it is used to describe a special type of local or regional wine shop that originated in Italy. Sometimes snacks or food is also served like a wine bar, like this one.

We have previously been to their Flat Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery many times, where we are wine club members. However, we had not visited their new location since it opened last year, so this seemed like a good opportunity to check it out for an early Valentine’s Day dinner without all the traffic and crowds in Austin this weekend.

The weekly Rustic Wine Dinner begins with a “Flights & Bites” appetizer featuring chef selected small bites paired with the weekly featured wine flight. Following “Flights & Bites” you enjoy a preview of the Chef’s specials for the upcoming week presented in a seated 3-course meal served with your favorite glass of wine from the flight.

Menu
Here is a photo of the menu for the Rustic Wine Dinner (Sorry about the shadow).

Rustic Wine Dinner Menu

Tasting Room

This shows the tasting room, with some of the people who shared dinner with us. They have a 60-inch custom oak wood-fired oven which is used for cooking everything, which was actually designed and built by one of the dinner guests. Since we arrived about 15 minutes early because there was no traffic, we had a glass of 2013 Viognier until our dinner was ready to be served.

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Communal Table

This is the table where we had an intimate dinner with seven people. We really enjoyed a  wonderful dinner, great wine, and interesting conversation.

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Flights & Bites

Preceding our dinner, we enjoyed these Flights & Bites. We had three glasses of wine (one white, two red) that were paired with corresponding bites that are listed below the photo. Left to right, there is a glass of 2013 Cuvee Blanc (62% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Viognier, and 8% Pinot Grigio), 2009 Syrah (100%), and 2012 Super Texan (86% Sangiovese, 11% Tempranillo, 4% Syrah).

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Asiago Pimento Cheese
Pancetta Crisp
Paired with Cuvee Blanc 2013

Tomato, Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Flatbread
Paired with Syrah 2009

Olli Norcino Salame
Parmigianno-Reggiano
Paired with Super Texan 2012

We selected a glass of wine from the Flight to enjoy with Dinner. I selected the Cuvee Blanc since I thought that would go nicely with the quail.

Appetizer

This shows the Panzanella Salad which was the appetizer for the 3-course dinner that followed the Flights & Bites.

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Panzanella Salad
Tomato, Fresh Mozzarlla, Red Onion & Tomato Vinaigrette

Main

This shows the main course for the dinner, featuring Texas quail from Bandera, which is described below the photo.

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Braised Texas Quail
Red Wine Pan Jus
Herbed Zucchini & Potato Rosti with Feta

Dessert

This was the dessert for our dinner (with description after the photo).

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Brown Butter Cheesecake
Pecan Crust & Raspberry Glazed Blueberries

All Done!

That was delicious, and nothing was left as you see here.

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We had a great evening, and look forward to future dinners. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and check it out. They are located at 112 US Hwy 281 in Marble Falls, TX 78654, about 40 minutes west of Lago Vista on FM 1431 or slightly over an hour from Austin via US 71. Their hours are 11 am – 9 pm on Tuesday – Sunday.

Photography 101: Water

Photography 101: Water

When I think of “Water”, I remember all the wonderful and fun places we have visited which all feature water in various forms. I have included a few photos that capture some of these images for this Photography 101 Day 3 assignment.

Here we have frozen water from a wonderful 10-day Alaskan cruise and land tour in Denali National Park we took in 2009.  One of the highlights was visiting this impressive Margerie Glacier in Glacer Bay National Park. It’s about 1 mile wide and extends about 21 miles from Mount Root (12,860 feet high) on the Alaska-Canada border.  We even witnessed it calving icebergs where chunks fall off into the water with a loud cracking boom sound.  Glacial ice is blue because its compacted ice absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue so that’s what we see .

Margerie Glacier

Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

 

Here the water is massive and provides lots of great recreation opportunities as well as views like this.  We love hiking, especially in scenic areas like the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla, California (San Diego) where we visited in 2012.  There are great views of the Pacific Ocean here with the beaches and cliffs, and wonderful hiking trails to enjoy.

Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines

Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, La Jolla, CA

 

Another place we love to go is Lake Tahoe, which is so large and the water is very blue because it’s so deep.  We’re fortunate that my sister-in-law lives there so we get to visit quite a bit and enjoy this great area in the Sierra Mountains of California which borders Nevada.  There are so many great things to enjoy here like hiking, but sometimes it’s just so pleasant to appreciate the beauty while relaxing in a restaurant by the lake with the trees, boats, and mountains in our view. This was taken in 2011 at the Wild Goose restaurant, which I understand is now closed.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe from Wild Goose restaurant

 

Here the water forms the border which separates Mexico and the United States at Lajitas, Texas.  We stayed at Lajitas Golf Resort there in February 2013, and played golf at Black Jack’s Crossing golf course.  This photo was taken from our golf tee looking down to the green where we had to hit.  Beyond that you can see the Rio Grande meandering along between the countries with the Mexican mountains in the background.  It’s not very wide so it’s understandable how easy it must be for illegal immigrants to cross.

Rio Grande

Rio Grande from Black Jack’s Crossing golf tee

 

In this photo from Big Bend National Park, you can see how the water has formed the deep cliffs of Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande over thousands of years.  We hiked on a trail along the edge of the water where we could appreciate the view from the riverbed.  You can’t go much further because you would go into Mexico (illegally).

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park

 

This year we attended my niece’s wedding in Seattle, Washington and the reception was held in the Columbia Tower Club on the 76th floor.  I  took this photo of Puget Sound surrounding the city looking down on all the city’s skyscrapers with the 605-foot Space Needle landmark built for the 1962 World’s Fair in the middle.  It offered wonderful views below in all directions, including Mount Ranier as well as the stadiums for the Seattle Mariners baseball and Seattle Seahawks football teams.

Seattle and Puget Sound

Seattle, Space Needle, and Puget Sound (from 76th floor)

 

Of course, after all the wonderful vacations and fun times traveling to other places, it’s also great to come back home to Lago Vista where we enjoy our lake views and sunsets every day.

Currently, I use an iPhone 5 for my photos, although some of these earlier ones were taken with an iPhone 3G, Canon PowerShot S400, and Kodak C875.  I look forward to share more photos with you.

Photography 101: Street – Cheesesteak War

Photography 101: Street – Cheesesteak War

When returning to the Philadelphia airport from a family reunion beach vacation on Long Beach Island at the Jersey shore in 2010, my son Jeff insisted that we make a stop in South Philadelphia because he had to try the famous cheesesteaks at Geno’s and Pat’s.

I was concerned that he might not make his flight since we were running late, but he didn’t care since he just had to go there and try them both to see which one was better.  I grew up in South Jersey across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, but that was the first time I had visited these famous cheesesteak places.

There has been continuous extreme competition (almost war) between two restaurants directly across from each other at the “X” shaped intersection of South 9th St and East Passyunk Ave in South Philadelphia, where they are crossed by Wharton St and Latona St.  For those not familiar with a Philly cheesesteak, it  consists of thinly sliced rib-eye steak, melted cheese, oven-fresh baked bread and delicately grilled onions.

Pat’s King of Steaks started his restaurant when became tired of eating hot dogs as a street vendor and invented the steak sandwich in 1933.  Geno’s Steaks was established in 1966, and the owner claimed that he added cheese on top, and thus invented the classic Philly cheese steak.  Pat later one-upped him by introducing Cheese Whiz, which has become the topping of choice since then.  Pat chops up his meat, Geno’s does not.

These twin shrines have drawn rock stars, college kids, and politicians for almost 50 years (and us).  The cheesesteak has since become a signature dish for the city of Philadelphia.  There was an old Fortune article from May 29, 2003 called “Sandwich Superheroes“, which talked about how Philadelphia’s cheese-steak kings have fought for more than 30 years.

Here’s a photo of Geno’s Steaks that I took when we visited.  They’re very busy but the line moves quickly so you have to know how to order properly;  my son had prompted me to say “I want a philly cheesesteak, wiz wit”, which is slang for “with cheese whiz, “wit” onions – and that’s what I got with fries and a drink.  You can find additional information about Geno’s Steaks at their Website as well as Wikipedia.

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And on the opposite corner is Pat’s King of Steaks (also known as Pat’s Steaks), which is Geno’s rival cheesesteak restaurant.  It was founded in 1930 by brothers, Pat and Harry Olivieri, who are credited with the creation of the Philly Cheesesteak.  It’s not as flashy as Geno’s but its menu is very similar.  We also had a cheesesteak there too, but frankly I’m not sure I could really tell that much difference between them, but they were both very good.  And of course, it’s the whole experience and atmosphere that makes this a special place to visit.  You can find additional information about Pat’s Steaks at their Website as well as Wikipedia.

Pat's Steaks

If you want to visit, here a segment of a Google Map which shows where they are located directly opposite each other at this intersection of South 9th St and East Passyunk Ave in South Philadelphia.

Cheesesteak Map

As you approach the cheesesteak intersection driving up the one-way South 9th from South Broad St, you pass a large “Sounds of Philadelphia” mural on the side of the Italian Market.  It celebrates Philly’s own musicians of the Bandstand era as a tribute to the sound that made South Philadelphia famous in the 1950s and ‘60s — a sound that not only defined Philadelphia, but an entire era.

Philadelphia Mural

It features signed pictures of famous music people from South Philly: Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Jerry Blavat (top row), Fabian, Bobby Rydell, Al Martino, and Eddie Fisher (bottom row).

Frankie Avalon is an American actor, singer, playwright, and former teen idol.  Here’s an old video when he appeared on Dick Clark’s evening show.

“Venus” by Frankie Avalon (1959)

 

Bobby Rydell is a professional singer, mainly of rock and roll music. In the early 1960s he was considered a teen idol. Well known tracks include “Wild One” and “Volare”, and he appeared in the movie Bye Bye Birdie.

Fabian is a singer and actor who became popular after performing on American Bandstand; he became a teen idol of the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Al Martino was an older singer and actor whose greatest success was between the early 1950s and mid-1970s, being described as “one of the great Italian American pop crooners.”

Eddie Fisher was an entertainer and the most successful pop singles artist of the first half of the 1950s, selling millions of records and hosting his own TV show; he also was initially married to Debbie  Reynolds (and father of Carrie Fisher of Stars Wars fame), and then next to her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor, and later to Connie Stevens.

Chubby Checker is an American singer-songwriter widely known for popularizing the twist dance style, with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard’s R&B hit “The Twist”. He also popularized the Limbo Rock and its trademark limbo dance, as well as various dance styles such as the fly. He got grownups out dancing on the floor to teenage music.  Maybe this will take some readers back in time (like me).

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker on American Bandstand (1960)

 

Jerry Blavat, also known as “The Geator with The Heator” and “The Boss with the Hot Sauce”, is an American disc jockey known for promoting oldies music on the radio in the Philadelphia area. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I used to listen to him all the time on the radio.   I even went on the American Bandstand TV show with Dick Clark, which was quite popular back then and it probably gave Dick Clark his start.

Currently, I use an iPhone 5 for my photos, although these earlier photos were taken in 2010 with a Canon PowerShot A400 which I don’t have any more.  I look forward to share more photos with you.