Posts Tagged With: tourists

THE SUMMER PALACE

The Summer Palace sits majestically over a lake. It is still used by the Empress Dowager and we didn’t go into the buildings but it was the favorite place of  Empress Cixi Putz, pronounced sissy-putz, who died in the late 1800’s.

We were ferried over the man-made lake by dragon boat to a landing where we waited in line to cross the seventeen arches bridge.

I am guessing that later construction in China did not obey the multiples of nine as in older buildings. The Summer Palace,  while still used officially, is a huge tourist attraction with boat rides of all types on the lake, beautiful gardens and in short, a lovely way to spend a day and picnic.

You enter through this beautiful gate.

As always, I had to take a picture of the ornate roof of the gate.

Our group stopped for a picture in front of this beautiful gate. The site is now designated a UNESCO site for its unique beauty and features.

The side of the gate is lined with the stone lion guards. Peeling paint is being scraped; the site repainted in preparation for the Olympics to be held in China for the first time in 2008.

Two  interesting  features of the Summer Palace are the Marble Boat, seen only in the background behind these people and the Long Hall which is not a hall, but a long covered walk way for the Empress to use.  On the Marble Boat, the Empress entertained guests  with a banquet as though they were actually traveling to some exotic place.

The Long Hall is also beautifully decorated. You can see the roof trusses beneath the picture.  The hall has many pictures depicting Chinese History, or famous storied fables to entertain her and her guests. It is lined with benches to rest often since the Empress, (and all women then,) had bound feet. The royal Empresses of old were confined to their Peaceful Garden and Long Hall since it was difficult for them to move about.

It would be fun to hear some of the stories these pictures represent. We were free to wander around the gardens and lake.

There are many bridges of great beauty. Chinese tourists love boating here.

Every bridge is guarded by those marvelous stone lions.

When we first arrived on the Island, we saw workers disembarking from a boat. This woman carries her own big metal “dust” pan and straw broom. The thermos we expect is her lunch. The dust pan can obviously hold discarded paper cups, napkins and other large debris dropped on the walkways and gardens.

These two little girls were well dressed and obviously having a good time. The one child per family edict resulted in more surviving males, by design. Women would line up to have sonograms and abort girl babies. Men grew up and couldn’t find a wife and had to go to Korea, Viet Nam, Indonesia,  or elsewhere to import brides. The sonogram “factories” have been closed and now, through education, people revere and prefer girls, especially in the big modern cities.  Farm families are allowed two children.

Since we couldn’t read Chinese script, we have no idea what significance this beautiful sculpture of a cow had.

At lunch, Viki explained to us that her own grandmother had bound feet, the cruel tortuous practice instigated by the Emperor’s favorite concubine who had tiny, tiny feet and danced for him on a drum. He considered them so beautiful and dainty, that aristocratic women made their own daughters emulate that beauty by binding their feet.  Vicki called it five hundred years of cruelty and crippling of women. Her grandparents were political, meaning outspoken, and were banished to the high country of China near Tibet. She remembers as her grandmother aged how painful her feet were and her inability to walk properly or very far.

All restaurant meals  are served on this giant turntable that takes up the complete center of the table.  We had delicious meals in China  that typically  included sea weed, cabbage, always bok choy, chicken, beef, cucumbers, soup, little meaty hors’ dueovres. Meat is in small quantities with many vegetables none of us recognized; always fish, normally cooked whole with head, eyes and fins attached. Everything came in a tasty sauce. Rice in good restaurants and affluent Chinese homes, is served last. It is only to fill you up if you didn’t get enough primary foods. We all wanted rice WITH our meals and of course, we were accommodated.

For more information about the summer palace, click the following link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_Palace

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BUGGY BILL

Most people didn’t know his last name. They fondly called him Buggy Bill.  He died unexpectedly at age 63. Murphys has lost an icon.

When I first met him, about 30 years ago, his horse and buggy was just a dream.  He had just arrived in town with an acquaintance from Nevada where he worked driving a chemical truck. They set up housekeeping on her property way out on Ponderosa road where there was no electricity or running water. He loved horses, the leather, the times. He would say, “I was born too late.”  He went to work mending fences for  John Davies Ranch, at first.

He was visible in town with the same battered hat and an old battered pick-up. Over the years, he built his dream. He bought horses,  broken down buggies that he lovingly fixed. He didn’t  deck himself out like a cowboy. Bill looked the same in this picture from 2009 as when I first met him all those years ago.

He liked it when little kids rode in his buggy and petted the horses. For a long time, he had a white  horse  named  Pepper,  half blind, with only one eye.  It amazed him that  some  kids had never seen a horse up close enough to touch one. He didn’t make much money, but it was what he loved doing. Some years, during fair time, he was hired to taxi dignitaries around the steep grounds in a larger buggy with a team of horses. If he was hired to do a wedding, he decked out the buggy with white ribbons to carry the  bride to the hotel, or Kautz winery to meet the groom.  I can’t imagine how many rides he has given over the years. And, he had his problems. For many years he parked in front of the Murphys Hotel. A new owner wanted him gone and considered him a nuisance. He appealed to the Board of Supervisors and they designated his business as a cab,  and provided a parking place away from the hotel’s main entrance, for cabs only. After three years, the owner put dining tables in the garden adjacent to the hotel, then claimed the horse drew flies.  Bill was again relocated in front of the water company building.

Like everyone else, I’ll miss Bill. It  won’t seem right  without  him on the streets of Murphys on weekends, giving rides to tourists.  His son Zac lived with his dad and went to Bret Harte High School for one year in the 1980’s. He and my daughter became good friends. We will get together on Sunday at the Nugget,  Bill’s favorite watering hole,  and hoist a warm beer, (his favorite drink) and salute his long tenure as the last remaining remnant of a past life. If he were still with us I would tell him,  YOU WERE NOT BORN TOO LATE.

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SAN XAVIAR MOOSE

Yesterday, we left Sandee’s and drove to Thornydale,  AZ where I was able to buy ink for our printer,  fax paperwork and catch up on some business before reaching a small suburb of Tuscon. I’m learning that Tuscon covers a huge area of influence. Didn’t we just leave Tuscon 80 miles back?

We are staying with the Moose for several days where we met (serious only in the photo) Paul, our seat mate at the bar. Every now and then you meet someone who says, “What’s blogging?”  It is hard to explain to people with no experience with computers. Paul kept shying away from having his picture taken and finally agreed. He was a lot of fun and agreed to sell us some home-made green corn tamales.  We still lust after those we bought in Yuma in 2008. We compare all  to those.

Carleen, the bartender was a hoot and kept telling us how strong she is. Doesn’t do arm wrestling, though.

Some lodges people are friendly as can be and make you feel instantly at ease. We stayed for dinner. Paul touted us on the Tuscon Rodeo and Parade which isn’t until Thursday.

We laughed with this crusty, funny gal.

 

 

I got a recipe from my friend Pam Munn that is quick and easy in an RV. Use a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Add a rind of cheese, two green onions, two stalks of celery, a sprig of parsley or cilantro if you have it.  One  potato cut into chunks. In ten minutes, you have a fast eat. It’s protection against raining cats and dogs.

 

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HOOVER DAM, AN ENGINEERING FEAT.

 

When we arrived in Vegas by Highway 93, everyone wanted to know, “Did you see the new bridge?” Referring, of course, to the new arched bridge over Black Canyon.  It’s a beauty, poised to provide a gorgeous view of Hoover Dam. The sun was behind it; I took tight shots of the super structure since my camera doesn’t zoom wide enough to encompass the whole bridge.

We actually marveled over the brand new parking garage, engineered to fit into a tight spot. And, the whole visitors complex is a gigantic affair with metal detectors, searches and crowd control lines. Quite a change from my last visit.

The visitors center is the tan building off to the left. Its interesting that the grid towers lean out from the steep banks so that wires cannot touch the ground and short out. On the tour, they show a good film about the building of the dam. They had to invent new ways to pour and cool the concrete; they had to build roads and rails to get equipment and materials in. An amazing engineering feat by six combined companies.

And the dam itself, impossible to photograph adequately as you gaze down from above. One can’t resist trying.  Its immense, concave, sheer-

If you click on my photos, they do enlarge. But, the best photos are on the Hoover Dam Website at:
http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/
If you like history, you’ll enjoy this tour very much.

The underground part of the $11 tour is quite short compared to my previous visit, so it you like the mechanics of things, the $30 tour is your best bet. We saw the turbines, the part that is inside of the building, and not much else. Instead of walking inside of the spillway, and viewing a huge underground complex,  immense tools and parts, an interpretive center shows how the dam was constructed, and how it works. These huge turbines extend deep into the water below.

We enjoyed the sunny day and a walk across the dam. Skyscraper type intake towers like this bring Colorado River water into the turbines.

The tower shadows made a painting on the water for this beautiful sunny day.

The only wild life we spotted was a couple of chipmunks picking through the stark rocks for weed seeds.

Its kind of amazing seeing plants can grow on a heavy perpendicular rock wall, rooting into a small crack.

I was happy to see they didn’t forget the dam’s mascot, who was run over by a truck he fell asleep under.

The blue waters of lake Mead accumulate behind the dam.

The over flow pipes set into the steep cliffs sit above the silver trail of the Colorado River heading down to Mexico.

And, tourists like me still trying to get a picture of that beautiful arched bridge.

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MYSTIC SEAPORT-THE TOWN

 

Mystic Seaport has a mysterious name. It conjures up the movie, Mystic Pizza, a romantic comedy filmed partly in Mystic Seaport and nearby Groton, Connecticut. There is an element of mystery as the pizza continues to become well known. Ah, so much for the movies. It did put Mystic Seaport on the map for those of us who didn’t know about its other qualities, such as a whaling and fishing history.  Jim and I  spent quite a bit of time there since Jim’s daughter-in-law lived most of her life in Mystic Seaport. Jim and Wendy Jaillet were married there as well. On our first visit we simply walked the town and looked around. Following is some of those photos. 

Rolling into town from Newport, R.I.

A beautiful lighthouse-still in use.

Swans are not U.S. natives. They were put here to eat up troublesome algae. Notice the darker, young swan. The Ugly Duckling story.

New England has many, many bridges. This draw bridge is tough to photograph, the heavy concrete counterweights lift that bridge.

The boats pass through, and down they come.

This picture of a picture gives a better perspective of the bridge. Walking under those huge counterweights takes an element of faith. I guess its always that way when crossing a bridge with huge trucks rumbling next to you, as well.

In many communities public benches are chained to prevent theft. In Mystic, they simply make them heavier.

I enjoyed unique and different art work. Different, that is, in topics. Much ado about whaling, boats, sailing and fishing, obviously. The wood cut below is an antique we saw in a museum.

Conclusion: Mystic is the perfect place for a fish-loving, bridge building, romantic, movie-loving artist. And we tourists, too.

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LITTLE ITALY FESTIVAL DAY 2

I had to go back to the festival just to try more of the food. People turned out in numbers to watch or participate in the grape stomp. The barrels were mobbed with camera  wielding watchers.

Once you get out of the juicy, sticky stuff, a barrel of plain water allows you to rinse your feet.

A Japanese tourist got enticed to participate by one of the dancers. The M.C. continually announces to the crowd and has fun with the participants.

Three inch thick barbequed pork chops caused me to drool a bit. The shish-ke-bob, bag tacos, corn dogs and brats, all delicious carnival fare I’ve tasted before. I was looking for the unusual and I found it. Deep fried desserts.

Two stands sold deep fried Twinkies and Oreos. This one went the whole gambit with MilkyWays and Snickers, too. I hung around the stand for awhile waiting for someone to order one so I could see what it looks like and get an opinion of what it tastes like. The customers ordered everything else but the deep fried desserts, so I chickened out and passed on by. I’m not a sweets lover by nature, but now that morning is here, I’m regretting it. I will ever be curious.

Kettlecorn  is sweet and not to my taste but I enjoyed watching this guy make huge vats of the stuff. Eventually, I settled on an Italian sausage covered with onions and green peppers. Should have been good but the Midwest doesn’t spice things up and it was mild and just okay. Then I asked the locals what is the best stuff at the festival. I heard from two different people that the Italian Wedding Cake is a must. And, from a specific stand at that. The cakes sell for $30, but this stand sold by the slice or cupcake. Cake is something I usually pass, but I took the cupcake. It’s more like a pound cake, richer, heavier in texture, with nuts and flavorings that made it quite different. If you love cake, you would probably love the Italian Wedding Cake.

The Coal Town and Rail Road Museum were open during the festival and we visited these two small museums housed in the old Railroad Depot. We viewed a film down inside a coal mine with mules and workers showing how it was done. Gritty, hard work for the young. Two men, in this film, loaded 45 tons of coal in one day by hand with a shovel. The old song, 16 Tons came to mind, the amount expected of one man per shift.

The rail half of the museum had a video showing of personal interviews with former rail workers. The times were filled with difficult physical work. We complain about our wheeled suitcases, hustling them through check-in at the airport. I’d hate to have to tote the trunks above or the old heavy leather suitcases.

On the south side of town, the Italian Wine Garden is the focal point of the festival. Under a huge canopy of grape vine covered garden, neighbor meets neighbor in a homecoming; returning to Clinton to once again get together with friends and neighbors and family. People socialize over wine and beer and enjoy the music and revelry at the wine garden. After 6:00, no children are allowed and a small cover charge helps pay for the bands. This band from Ohio was just setting up and played nostalgic oldies, Dino, Sinatra, Mario Lanza  and some great Italian music.

An old Italian store and  small wine museum are in front of the garden with great old wine presses and musical instruments.

There is no longer a winery in Clinton, but traditionally, Italians make their own wine for home use. During  the festival, participants can learn how to make wine.

I wanted to buy something just to see the clerk operate this old cash register. Jim spent most of the day hanging out at the VFW and Eagles Club, socializing with fraternal buddies.

For more pictures click on the link:
http://picasaweb.google.com/1579penn/9610LittleItalyFest2#

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