Balloon Festival – put it on your bucket list!

balloon festival

In 2003 my friend KJ and I took a trip with the Sierra Club to the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you have never been, you must put it on your bucket list.balloon festival

These photos were taken with my little Olympus film point & shoot then digitally transfered to CDs. So while the quality isn’t that great, the memories certainly are!

balloon festival

We had to get up at 3:00am to be at the festival field before 5:00am. It was COLD and DARK!

balloon festival

So I have to tell you my story. I had to go to the bathroom in one of the Andy Gump type latrines. It was pitch black. Absolutely not one speck of light at all. I couldn’t see anything.

balloon festival

I have a problem with blood circulation to my hands on a Southern California summer day at noon.

So you can imagine, my hands had gone completely numb with the cold. If somebody had cut off my hands with a hatchet I would not have known the difference.

balloon festival

So I’m fumbling around in the complete dark. I can’t see anything and I can’t feel anything. I had to get my zipper undone to take a pee!

balloon festival

Let me tell you, this was one of the weirder experiences of my life!!! Somehow or other I managed to take care of business. But let me assure you I never want to go through that again… EVER!!!

balloon festival

Nevertheless, witnessing the balloons lying on the ground all around, then watching them ascend into the heavens is something I will never forget.

balloon festival

The word “awesome” is so over-used. But that is what it was.

balloon festival

I’ve been fortunate to have some glorious experiences in my life but this one still stands out. Do I wish I had a better camera in 2003? Of course, but these photos bring back the moment nevertheless.

balloon festival

We took the Amtrak train overnight from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. In the morning, this Indian guide entertained us with stories, music and song.

Click on an image below for slide show:

balloon festival

Near our hotel was this famous hot dog stand. We didn’t indulge.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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Lassen Volcanic National Park – 2003

lassen volcano national park

One of the longest trips by motor coach I ever remember was in 2003 when I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California close to the Oregon border.

lassen volcano national park

A friend was supposed to accompany me on this Sierra Club trip but bowed out upon learning that the park was 600 miles (965 km) north of Los Angeles and the bus would take more than eleven hours to reach the park… with a few pit stops here and there.

lassen volcano national park

I decided to go anyway and take my chances on a seat mate/room mate assigned to me by the leader.

lassen volcano national park

I won’t go into THAT story, but let’s just say I ended up sitting on about 1/3 of my seat… enough said!

lassen volcano national park

A few nights ago I made the trip out to the garage and hauled in boxes of photos I had taken since the 1970s. Prints, negatives, CDs, floppy drives, slides… you name the media and I have photos stored on it.

lassen volcano national park

It was exciting and nostalgic looking at all the photos… wonderful memories. Even before the advent of digital cameras I was sending out my negatives to be digitized on CDs and other storage disks that I can no longer retrieve.

lassen volcano national park

To the best of my knowledge, these photos were all taken with my very first point & shoot digital camera. Made by Olympus, it was maybe 1.5 pixels and required a handful of AA batteries. But at the time I was happy to be on the cutting edge of camera technology.

lassen volcano national park

I took all the images into Lightroom and did synchronized batch processing so I didn’t have to work on each one individually. It did a pretty good job considering what it had to work with. If you could see what the originals looked like, you would agree. There’s only so much magic Lightroom can do!

lassen volcano national park

Despite my room mate I had an enjoyable time. You have to take what you are given and make the best of it. I even thanked her at the end of the trip for being a good room mate… she didn’t snore and she didn’t hog the bathroom… two biggies for me! She just looked at me, didn’t say a word, and lumbered off the bus. Whatever!

lassen volcano national park

Lassen is one of the most beautiful national parks I have visited. Because it is so far off the beaten track it doesn’t have as many visitors as some other parks. That’s fine with me, but it does deserve to be visited.

lassen volcano national park

And I have to say, after not looking at these photos for fourteen years, I’m not unhappy with them. That little one megapixel camera didn’t do such a bad job and I am thrilled to find I have that trip recorded for posterity… that’s what is important here.

lassen volcano national park

I would absolutely LOVE to return to Lassen with my DSLR and shoot some higher quality pictures. Next time I would prefer to do it without the eleven-hour bus trip (and don’t let’s forget the eleven hours back again on 1/3 of a seat) and fly instead.

From the website: Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.

You can read more about the history and culture here:https://www.nps.gov/lavo/learn/historyculture/index.htm

Please click on any image below for slide show:

 

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

A private tour of Heifer International, Little Rock, Arkansas

Heifer International

Every year I get a gift catalog from Heifer International and every year I say I am going to donate to buy an animal to help a family in need somewhere in the world. Than I don’t.

There are several organizations I donate to on a regular basis as I want to do some good while I am alive. And they are all in my will.

Heifer International

After visiting the world headquarters for Heifer I am now determined to donate at least a chicken this coming Christmas. I am so fortunate to live where I live and have the life I have.

Heifer International

heifer-international-2017-2-c-500px

Heifer International
My mother and I had a lot of problems but one thing I am grateful for is giving me a sense of obligation to people less fortunate than I am.

Heifer International

From the website: Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.
Dan West was a farmer from the American Midwest and member of the Church of the Brethren who went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker. His mission was to provide relief, but he soon discovered the meager single cup of milk rationed to the weary refugees once a day was not enough.
And then he had a thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow?
That “teach a man to fish” philosophy is what drove West to found Heifer International. And now, nearly 70 years later, that philosophy still inspires our work to end world hunger and poverty throughout the world once and for all.

Heifer International

The hotel I stayed at was central to everything I wanted to do in Little Rock. It was easy to walk everywhere.

Heifer International

I was privileged to have one-on-one private tours with three representatives of Heifer International. Laura, Patrick and Jinkie.

Laura gave me an overview of the educational exhibits in the main visitor area.

Heifer International

Heifer International

This would be a great learning experience for school kids. But I learned a lot too.

Heifer International

Heifer International

I loved this poster about vegetables. I buy most of my veggies and fruit at the local Culver City farmers’ market every Tuesday afternoon. I plan my schedule around it. Makes me feel good to support the farmers and I know what I am eating is “green” in every way. With a few exceptions I can’t eat produce from the supermarket anymore…. it is tasteless compared to what I buy on Tuesdays.

Heifer International

I was told the docent, Patrick, was ready to give me a tour of the office building.

From the website: Based in Little Rock, AR, Heifer’s headquarters use 52 percent less energy than a conventional office building of similar size and use.

Heifer uses gray water, rainwater captured in a collection tower, to supply non-consumable water. The glass exterior is more than a beautiful design. The windows allow staff to work in natural light. Sensors adjust the lighting based on the amount of darkness outside.

People come to Heifer Village to shop, play and learn.

Heifer International

Heifer International
A Message from Pierre Ferrari, Heifer President and CEO:
To completely end the global scourges of hunger and poverty – and we are getting closer – there cannot be room for hatred, violence, racism, misogyny, anti-semitism, homophobia or religious intolerance.

Heifer International

Heifer International

Heifer’s campus is built on the site of a long-abandoned railroad yard. All of the materials used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of Little Rock. Except for the bamboo. Heifer chose bamboo because it is fast growing and sustainable.

Heifer International

 In 2007, Heifer’s headquarters achieved the highest “Green Building” rating possible. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification.
Heifer International
Heifer International
Next to the Heifer campus is the Clinton Presidential Library in the distance.
Heifer International
Heifer International
Heifer International
During eco-workshops that defined the project, Heifer stated that, of all the countries they worked in, the United States treated water with the least respect. As a result, the team responded to this challenge and created a project where no water leaves the site except blackwater, a true example of how to conserve water.
After Patrick’s wonderful and informative tour, Jinkie took over to show me the farm.
Heifer International
The animals given to people in need around the world to allow them to be self-sustaining are local to the area in which they live. They generally don’t ship animals from the US.
Heifer International
I believe the farm at Heifer International is a relatively new project.
Heifer International
Heifer International
No farm is complete without the farm cat.
Heifer International
Heifer International
This apple tree has several different kinds of apples grafted on to it. Now that’s an apple tree I can appreciate!
Heifer International
I was duly impressed with the architecture.
Heifer International
This brick pathway leading to the entrance of the visitor center is inscribed with the names of donors.
Heifer International
I came away with the sense of an organization that is 100% committed to its ideals with no compromises.
I was certainly happy that I was able to get such an in-depth look into its workings.
And now I’m looking forward to receiving that catalog at Christmas so I can pick out a gift for a family in need.
All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Crystal Bridges Museum

I am a fan of P. Allen Smith whose shows Garden Home and Garden to Table air on my local independent public TV station. On one program he showcased the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  I was enthralled and knew immediately that somehow or other by hook or by crook, I was going to visit it!

Crystal Bridges Museum

I didn’t have a clue how this was going to happen, I just knew it would.

Crystal Bridges Museum

As fate will have it, ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) planned to have their annual Symposium in Little Rock and guess what, one of the FAM tours was a day long trip out to the museum. Although I am on tour guide hiatus, I enjoy these conferences as they are so well put together. There are tours, luncheons, cocktail parties, seminars and opportunities to network. So what did I have to lose?

Crystal Bridges Museum

I also have wanted to visit the William J(efferson) Clinton Presidential Library and Museum which will be another post. And, to top it all off, I worked in Arkansas in the 1980s, loved every minute of it, always wanted to return, and never had the opportunity to visit Little Rock. So without thinking twice I signed up for the Symposium.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I arrived in Little Rock late Saturday night via Dallas/Fort Worth. I was starving so I ran down to the hotel dining room and ordered fried catfish and hush puppies, the staple diet in Arkansas (well, that’s what I remember). Two very nice tour guides invited me to sit with them, which I did.

Crystal Bridges Museum

The next day I was up early to be on the bus… er, motor coach… tour guides are not allowed to say “bus.” Surprisingly the motor coach was not full. There were other tours going out and I guess art museums can be a hard sell. Not to mention the more than 220 mile (354km), 3 1/2 hour drive (plus pit stop). Had I known it was that far… well, I still would have gone as what other opportunity would I have?

Crystal Bridges Museum

Fortunately, we had the BEST step-on tour guide you could possibly imagine who kept us entertained and informed for the entire trip. Darrel W. Brown. The title on his business card reads Administrative Specialist II, Group Travel Section. But it should read: Arkansas Encyclopedia. There was no fact, anecdote, statistic, rumor, joke or trivia about Arkansas he did not know. He couldn’t be tripped up. And his enthusiasm for his home state was palpable. If all we did was sit on that motor coach all day, his knowledge would have been worth it!

Crystal Bridges MuseumAlice L. Walton, is Chairwoman of the Board. She led the Walton Family Foundation’s founding of the museum. Walton is the daughter of Helen Walton and Walmart founder Sam Walton. As you may know, Walmart got its start in Arkansas. And on the way back to Little Rock, our motor coach passed by the original Walmart store in Bentonville. No, I wasn’t able to get a photo.

Crystal Bridges Museum

According to the website: Internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I second that! I am totally in awe of his design. Above you can see his doodle of the project. I bought the refrigerator magnet of this sketch. If only he could be hired for the redesign of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) instead of the ghastly black blob we are going to be stuck with… we can do better… as usual nobody asked me.
crystal-bridges-museum-2017-014-c-500px

Crystal Bridges Museum

Truthfully I enjoyed the architecture more than the art collection. But that’s just me. But if the art was the excuse for this magnificent building I’m not complaining!

Crystal Bridges Museum

Crystal Bridges Museum

It’s no secret I enjoy reflections and shadows… and I was having a ball here.

Crystal Bridges Museum

To repeat an expression I hate, but here it seems very appropriate: the architecture is the epitome of thinking outside the box. Literally.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I found out there was a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the grounds so I made an appointment to tour it. Photography inside the house is prohibited. And unfortunately the photo I know I took of the entrance didn’t make it on to my memory card.

Crystal Bridges Museum

From the website: [The Bachman-Wilson House]… was subsequently purchased by architect/designer team Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino in 1988 and meticulously restored. When the house was threatened by repeated flooding at its original location, the Tarantinos determined that, in order to preserve it, they should sell the house to an institution willing to relocate it. After the Tarantinos conducted a multi-year search for a suitable institution, Crystal Bridges acquired the house in 2013. The entire structure was then taken apart and each component was labeled, packed, and moved to the Museum, where it was reconstructed in 2015.

Crystal Bridges Museum

The landscaping of the museum campus is as beautiful as the architecture.

Crystal Bridges Museum

From the website: The trails and grounds of Crystal Bridges are a must-see part of the Museum experience. More than 3.5 miles of trails wind through the
Museum’s 120-acre site, providing guests with access to the beautiful Ozark landscape. Designed to spark the imagination, the trails help guests form connections to the land and its history, as well as enjoy outdoor artworks.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I only wish I had more time to hike all the trails. I could imagine hiding out in the museum overnight, waking up, having breakfast in the lovely restaurant then spending the day wandering the pathways.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I could be one of these sculptures sitting in this peaceful environment. For five minutes. Then I would have to be up, walking around with my camera.

crystal-bridges-museum-2017-035-c-500px

Crystal Bridges Museum

The weather was so perfect. Cool and sunny. My favorite.

crystal-bridges-museum-2017-147-c-500px

Crystal Bridges Museum

Skyspace, James Turrell’s Way of Color featuring a domed ceiling with an oculus opening directly to the sky.

Crystal Bridges Museum

I hated to leave but we had a long slog back to Little Rock. And I knew I could relive the whole experience with all the photos I took once I got back home to LA.

Crystal Bridges Museum

Please enjoy the rest of the photos. Click an image for slideshow.

Addition: Can’t believe I left off the photo of this guy who greets visitors as soon as they get off the elevator from the parking lot.

crystal bridges

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Travertine terraces at Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs

mammoth hot springs

Out first stop in Yellowstone National Park was at Mammoth Hot Springs.

mammoth hot springs

I seriously felt like I had just stepped out of the space craft on to the surface of another planet.

I really like this scene above of a photographer in this photographer’s paradise.

mammoth hot springs

According to the National Park Service website: Travertine terraces are formed from limestone. Thermal water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of the dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate). At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white mineral forming the rock of travertine terraces. The formations resemble a cave turned inside out. Colorful stripes are formed by thermophiles, or heat-loving organisms.

mammoth hot springs

I’ve been in love with travertine ever since I led the Marble Masterpieces tour for the Los Angeles Conservancy for many years. So it was pretty amazing to see it forming under my feet.

mammoth hot springs

If you’ve ever visited the Getty Center in Brentwood (Los Angeles, California) the whole complex is built in travertine. (Click here to view one of my posts about the Getty.)

mammoth hot springs

I love reflections and random objects and making connections, so this combination of live trees reflected in the water and a dead tree in the foreground spoke to me. These unexpected opportunities are why I enjoy photography.

mammoth hot springs

From the National Park Service website: Mammoth Hot Springs are a surface expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, scientists surmise that the heat from the hot springs comes from the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone thermal areas.

mammoth hot springs

In the center you can see the Historic District. From the National Park Service website: The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District includes Fort Yellowstone, where 35 structures remain from the 1890s and early 1900s when the US Army administered the park. Significant conservation policies were developed here that led to the origin of the National Park Service. The Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District has statewide significance as the administrative and concession headquarters of the largest national park in Wyoming. Fort Yellowstone is also listed as a National Historic Landmark District, the highest designation.

mammoth-hot-springs-091816-064-c-500px mammoth-hot-springs-091816-069-c-500px mammoth-hot-springs-091816-074-c-500px mammoth-hot-springs-091816-077-c-500px mammoth-hot-springs-091816-079-c-500px mammoth hot springs

mammoth hot springs

mammoth hot springs

This last guy is called Liberty Cap, formed by a steady flow of hot water emerging from a single source which deposited layers of travertine. The cone continued to grow as long as there was a source of water which evidently dried up.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

Views from the Craig Thomas Visitor Center, Grand Tetons

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

The best part about the Craig Thomas Visitor Center is that it is located in Moose, Wyoming! I happen to love everything MOOSE. On my second trip to Alaska I saw plenty of them and came home with all kinds of MOOSE crap, er, I mean lovely MOOSE souvenirs.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

To my dismay, on this trip to Big Sky Country I saw no MOOSE (meese?). Plenty of bison and elk but none of my favorites. So the name of this town had to suffice…

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

But, how can I complain when the views from here were so gorgeous?

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

As you can see from the photo at top, the architecture of the building rivaled the surrounding landscape, and that’s saying a lot.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

I couldn’t decide if the colors of the trees, the textures of the grasses or the majestic views of the Tetons were the most beautiful. This whole trip was an embarrassment of riches.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

As you can imagine it took me quite a while to walk over to the visitor center… I didn’t want to be indoors when faced with this luscious outdoors.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

I would walk a few inches and another view worthy of photographing would present itself.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Inside the center was an interesting display of Native American Indian artifacts from the Vernon Collection.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

Oh, wait, I was mistaken… I DID see a MOOSE… isn’t he elegant? Do you think my HOA would mind if I put him in front of the building?

Craig Thomas Visitor Center

This last photo was actually the first photo I took at the visitor center. 99% of my photos are “as shot” with sometimes some cropping and always post-processed in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. But I’m not a photojournalist and once in a while I go above and beyond. This is one such case. When I shot this I knew I would have to do a little Photoshop magic to get the image I saw in my mind. In the foreground was a parking lot. So I had to move the bench a couple of feet and make the parking spaces disappear to make it work.

Craig Thomas Visitors Center

This is the photo as my camera saw it. I shoot all my photos in RAW (and hi-res JPEG as a backup) and I have learned with digital photography it’s better to over-expose so I can bring out the details or dramatic effect in Lightroom.

However, no amount of Lightrooming or Photoshopping will compensate for a bad photograph in the camera… make no mistake about that! Photography is much art as skill as far as I am concerned. Ansel Adams always made his photos look like his own personal vision of the scene.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park

lower falls yellowstone

The Lower Falls are the second most photographed area of Yellowstone (Old Faithful not too surprisingly the most photoed). It is located at the head of the “Grand Canyon” of the Yellowstone River.

lower falls yellowstone

At 308 feet (although in 1867 it was described as “thousands of feet”) it is quite impressive. Look at that vapor trail at the bottom… I didn’t notice it until I saw my photo!

lower falls yellowstone

According to Yellowstone.net: The canyon’s colors were created by hot water acting on volcanic rock. It was not these colors, but the river’s yellow banks at its distant confluence with the Missouri River, that occasioned the Minnetaree Indian name which French trappers translated as roche jaune, yellow stone.

lower falls yellowstone

There’s a nice trail along the Yellowstone River that I walked along. Give me free time on any trip to wander off by myself to take pictures and I am happy.

lower falls yellowstone

My friend J and others went off on a hike but I wanted private time with my camera!

lower falls yellowstone

And soon it was time to catch up with my companions and hear their stories!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!