Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Tree Collecting While on the Road

As a traveller, I find that I had taken simple things for granted when I worked in a non-travelling gig.  Some of these things include home cooked meals, leftovers, spontaneously going out with friends and holiday decorating.  More specifically would be Christmas trees and Christmas decorating.  Last year I was on the road steady during the holidays so there was not any time.  This year...I am not sure what happened...I have time but have opted to continue the collection process.

On the road during holidays, I collect Christmas trees via photos.  This blog is dedicated to some of those trees I have collected.

If you are in New York City during the holidays, it is a magnificent.  Blocks of area are decorated.

And, if you are there, you have to see the Rockefeller tree.  Lots of human traffic, but magnificent at night. 

Another favorites of mine when in NYC is checking out the fountain area in Rockefeller Center.  I have caught the beauty in almost every season.

Philadelphia is another place that has captured my heart on the East Coast.  The Philadelphia bow to Christmas includes a greatly decorated tree near the LOVE monument by Robert Indiana. 

It would not be the holidays with running into some beautiful Christmas Trees in random places.  This Christmas Tree was tucked into the lobby of the Philadelphia Amtrak station.

While on the East Coast, I was also in Atlantic City and came across a themed Christmas Tree paying homage to the drama of the Roaring 20's (which I am a huge fan) in the lobby of Resorts Casino.

Another gem on the East Coast that I located lived at Revel for their employees.  A beautiful and traditional tree.

While this conversation has been directed to the Trees of Christmas, I would be remiss if I did not share my joy in finding St Nick on the West Coast in Blackhawk, Colorado.  I was amazed when I entered the Holiday Bazaar to find this jolly, young man.

While I am not done with the West Coast, I am going to shift to the Mid-West.  I had the pleasure of staying at the Argosy Riverside property in Kansas City, Missouri.  And to my delight, I walked into a high domed, cathedral style entrance complete with a radiant Christmas Tree.  I waited a while trying to get a picture without bystanders.  Eventually, I decided they added to the landscape.

It is a memorable pleasure to spend time during the holiday season with both those you have known all of your life and those that you meet and make an instant, new friendship.  A new friend took me to the Zona Rosa Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  It is there I met this enjoyable tree with quite the topper.

Also while in the Mid-West, I enjoyed the holiday preparations in Mayetta, Kansas.  If you thought Dorothy and Ruby Red slippers were the extent of Kansas you would be wrong.  There is a surprise around each corner.  The Prairie Band Casino also serves as a host to some Christmas magic.

Heading back to the West Coast, I was able to run into a beautiful tree while visiting my friends and their new angel babies at Saint Rose Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Lights in Las Vegas do exist off of the strip.

This may be one of my favorites.  I love the lighting bouncing off of the marble floors eliciting an almost ethereal feeling.

Although there is not a picture of a tree, I wanted to share this holiday decor.  It is beautiful and triggers memories of spending a wonderful holiday vacation in Park City, Utah with family.  No matter where you look at this time of the year, you find reminders of the Holiday season.

Then you head home...where friends and family await you and the glamour of all other Christmas trees falls away in favor of the pleasure of being with those you love and love you in return without judgement.

Shannon's Christmas tree at our Christmas Cookie party a few years ago.

My brother and his family Christmas Tree including the extended canine family unit.

My Grandmother's Christmas tree a few years ago.  This one was hand cut from the forest (with the correct permits or whatever is necessary, of course).

And, finally, what would a Christmas Tree blog be without the blogger's version of a Christmas Tree.  Although it has been years since I have set my own holiday decor, I love being part of all the other holiday decors, coast to coast...and sometimes decorating my own tree.

From the cherished ornaments to the family dinners, who could possibly deny the beauty of a Christmas holiday spent with friends, family and sometimes, strangers.

The Christmas Tree may be a symbol of a religion for many of us, but I also find it is a symbol of gatherings.  Surrounding yourself and others around a Christmas Tree is often enough to spark memories, good and maybe not so good.  But, it is always nice to have a solid and known entity help us down our paths, no matter where that path may take us.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil.  Enjoy your holidays, whether it includes St Nick and his elves or something else.  Find it in yourself to give and find kindness in others.  From coast to coast and country to country that is all that really matters.  If it is a Christmas Tree that elicits that emotion, make it happen.

From my friends and family to yours...Merry Christmas!  Enjoy your holiday season and the rest of the year.  Don't let the season coming to an end change your love for man once the season truly comes to a close.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alaskan Cruise: For the Young and Young At Heart

My friends convinced me that I wanted to join them for an Alaskan cruise.  A lot of folks think it is crazy that I had to be convinced to join this once in a lifetime experience, however it is true.  I like to spend my time on land exploring not relegated to a few hours of excursions.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself a lot.  There is great food and fun on the cruises and traveling to Alaska via a cruise ship cannot be knocked.  There are incredible views at every turn, enjoyable times sitting in a jacuzzi as the cruise ship navigates through the Tracy Arm Fjord, dancing every night and excursions that will forever be imprinted on my heart.

A view of the fog getting ready to hug our ship.
  Our first stop took us to Ketchikan, Alaska.  Ketchikan, while being known as the Salmon Capital of the World, is also known for being the host to the Misty Fjords National Monument.  There are thousands of ocean inlets in this protected area.  We chose to take a float plane through the Misty Fjords.  I loved being co-captain, while one of my passengers was quite green...and not with envy.

Our chariot awaits our return.

One of the incredible views to be seen from the float plane.

Another view of the Misty Fjords from the float plane.

Arriving back in Ketchikan.
 We awoke early the next morning to take in the sights of the Tracy Arm, another fjord located in the Tongass National Forest.  The ship took us through the pass where we were able to view the magnificence of the Twin Sawyer Glaciers.

Along the Tracy Arm there are ice pieces ranging in many sizes and all pretty stunning.

The Twin Sawyer Glaciers
 Our next stop took us to the capital of Alaska, Juneau.  While in Juneau we were able to visit the Icefields and Hubbard Glacier.  We also did a little hiking on top of Mount Roberts where the entire town can be viewed.  Juneau was one of my favorite stops as it allowed for some awesome excursions and I thought the people were incredibly friendly and fun to be around.

A view of Juneau from our helicopter.

A view of the Icefields in Juneau we were getting ready to hike.

Hubbard Glacier

I enjoyed a drink from the Hubbard Glacier and it was quite cold and refreshing.

I had a lot of faith in my fellow humans to take this picture leaning into a giant hole of the Hubbard Glacier.

A view of bogs in Juneau.

A sunset view from the top of Mount Roberts.

Another view of sunset from the top of Mount Roberts.

A view of our cruise ship, the Infinity, from the tram that takes you to the top of Mount Roberts.

Another stop on my Alaskan journey included the quaint town of Skagway.  Skagway is truly a depiction of quiet with the streets closing early.  At this stop we meandered through the town and located the White Summit Pass train that took us to Glacier Lake, Canada where we kayaked.  All views from the train and the kayaking are incredibly picturesque and truly offer you the scope of nature's magnificence.

The view from our port in Skagway.

Camp Skagway, Camp 1 of the Arctic Brotherhood, is made out of driftwood.

A view from the White Summit Pass Train over a glacier river.

Another incredible view from the White Summit Pass Train from Skagway, Alaska to Glacier Lake, Canada.

The White Summit Pass Train headed over what appears to be quite the rickety bridge.

Kayaking on Glacier Lake is a wonderful way to spend the day.

A cruise discussion would not be complete without discussing the food and activities. 

Dancing With the Stripes competition is a fun way to spend an evening. 

There is dancing at night, which is fun and a nice offset to the "all you can eat" food available on the ship ranging from escargot to an ice cream shop.  This is not to mention the varied libations available at the many bars on the cruise ship.

While you are eating breakfast, you may have an opportunity to see whales or just enjoy the beauty of the ocean and tranquility of those moments.

Going on the upper decks at night certainly requires some layering against the cold, but is well worth the views.

My Alaskan cruise was a once in a lifetime experience.  But, I won't let that stop me from experiencing it again!

Friday, July 6, 2012

An Ode to Flying

I enjoy flying and watching the wonderment of the change in environments and terrain below me.  This is a poem I wrote while flying above the desert sky.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Revisiting My Travels of America on Her Birthday

I have been very lucky to travel America.  I have visited many historical sites, many entertainment sites and many small town charming sites.  This post is dedicated to those places I traveled that remind me of the fight that had to occur for the freedoms we have today. 

Home of Betsy Ross
Betsy Ross is credited with the creation of a symbol of American freedom, the United States flag.  It is said that Betsy Ross presented this flag to George Washington in the late spring of 1776 a full year ahead of the Flag Act.

Independence Hall
Independence Hall is home of the signing of the Declaration of Independence as well as the United States Constitution.  The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 and read aloud in Independence Square located adjacent to Independence Hall.  The document was issued for those colonies who were declaring their independence from Great Britain. 

The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell was commissioned from a London firm and originally cast in 1752.  The bell was inscribed with a partial quote from Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."  Upon arriving in Philadelphia it was placed in the steeple of what is now known as Independence Hall.  The bell was rung to summon lawmakers and advise citizens of proclamations being issued.  

Many bells were rung to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776.  The Liberty Bell is considered a symbol of freedom today and has traveled the world bringing the idea of freedom with it.

Grave site of Benjamin Franklin
 A Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin was a huge proponent and campaigner for uniting the colonies.  The 6th President of Pennsylvania was a believer in Enlightenment and religious tolerance.  He was the 1st Postmaster General of the United States.  An inventor, author and social volunteer, Benjamin Franklin made a stamp on America and is a legend to be revered for his hard work and dedication to life for the people.

Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is the home of our 1st president, George Washington.  From 1759 until the Revolutionary War, George Washington, an aspiring agriculturist, was operating five farms on the land.  Mount Vernon is the resting place of a beloved President and his wife, Martha.

White House
 The White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was completed in 1800 and remains the home of every American president since John Adams.  During the War of 1812, the White House was set to fire.  Enough re-construction of the home allowed President James Monroe to move into the house in 1817.

The completion of the White House also completed the move of the nation's capitol city to Washington, DC.  Although named many things in its early years, it is said that the White House name began when the fire damage was being covered with White Paint.  This iconic house represents the finality of accomplishing a sovereign nation that necessitated its own capitol city and home for future presidents.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a site of the Civil War.  In 1863, a battle took place in Gettysburg like none other seen on American soil.  The American Civil War fought between the North and South or the Union and the Confederates marked the end of slavery in America.  It also marked the end of the Southern states attempt to secede from the Union.
Site of the Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln is considered one of the most famous speeches in American History.  The Address was given in Gettysburg four months after the defeat of the Confederates in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.  Lincoln not only addressed the need to remain one union, but also the need of a nation to instill human equalities for all. 

In referencing the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln started his address: "Four Score and Seven Years Ago..." bringing the listening public back to the belief system of democracy "...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

Washington Monument
The Washington Monument located in Washington, DC was completed in 1884.  The world's tallest obelisk was built to commemorate the 1st President of the United States, George Washington.  Washington passed in 1799, 2 years after his presidential term ended.  Beginning as early as 1783 talk had begun to create a monument to the nation's hero.  Statues were erected in the capitol, however many thought a more apt monument be created.

Political squabbling and funding issues delayed the Washington Monument we know today until 1884.  A democratic nation as viewed by Washington is represented by the Washington Monument, which reflects in the Reflecting Pool located nearby.

The 2011 earthquake in Virginia caused damage to the Washington Monument, which remains closed while under construction.

Statue of Liberty
Another icon of freedom for the United States is the Statue of Liberty.  She resides on Liberty Island and was a gift from France to the American people in 1886.  She represents Libertas, Roman Goddess of Freedom.  She holds a book representing law, which is inscribed with July 4, 1776 indicating the book is the Declaration of Independence. 

With a broken chain at her feet, she is a symbol of America's protection of freedom.  She is also a representation of the American global importance as it was an effort from France to befriend the United States of America in a time of French political strife. 

Her location on Liberty Island is appropriate as many immigrants arriving in America see her first and have written tales of elation just at the sight and representation of a new life in America.

National WWI Museum
In 1914 a global war, World War I, began and lasted for almost 4 years.  The Allies and the Central Powers were at war and once again a war was fought with human equality at the heart.  In 1917, America joined the war after many attempts by the Central Powers to cut off American ships to Europe, which included the sinking of 7 American Merchant ships.  It was at this time that America began the Selective Service Act and draft times began changing a nation both culturally and historically.

The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch was completed in 1965 and is a monument representing the expansion of America into the West.  The monument was commissioned in an effort to revitalize the St Louis riverfront.  America's constant need to improve levels of living were brought up in the speech given by Vice President Hubert Humphries during the dedication.  "Whatever is shoddy, whatever is ugly, whatever is waste, whatever is false, will be measured and condemned."

A firework illuminating the sky in St. Louis, MO
Fireworks are used in celebration of the American Independence Day.  This is thought as a representation of the American Civil War and the bombs and cannons that illuminated the sky.  It was also decreed by one of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, in a letter to his wife that Independence Day:

"will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America...It will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [performances], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Although this post only touches on a few of the memorable moments in American History as I have seen during my travels, the prevailing theme is one of gaining and maintaining freedom.  This has continuously been brought to life through monuments and dedications, as well as national holidays.

Happy Independence Day!  I thank all of those who have contributed to the freedom I savor today and hope that on this day as well as others, we remain grateful to the fight and struggle to remain free and allow human equalities.

Note:  The historical notes and information in this post is based on learning through travels, tours and pamphlets.  Additional assistance with dates was received via Wikipedia.