Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Garvan Gardens Series

Since I've continued to procrastinate about drawing and painting I've decided to continue with blogs about photography. Some of my favorite photographs I've taken are of the beautiful plantings at Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
These were taken last year (2006) around Easter. This dogwood flower is one of my favorites. I had just had my digital camera stolen and had bought a new (and better) one. I stopped at Garvan Gardens to try it out. I had never been there before and wasn't sure what to expect. I was overwhelmed. It's a beautiful place. I'll share the pictures over the next few days. I don't know that any of the pictures have a special message behind them, but I'll try to be inspirational. Nature always brings out the philosopher/spiritualist in me. This bloom seemed to be new, pristine, perfect in its form. I'm so glad the photo turned out well. I hope you enjoy it. I'll post more on the Flickr album.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Melancholy Memories

Ah, Vegas. It was only last month but already it feels like a lifetime ago. I've previously posted pictures of the gaudy Vegas, i.e. Harrah's, Venetian, Caesar's. But, I've not posted the pictures of the more romantic side of Vegas. This is the Belaggio fountain. The water is choreographed to the most beautiful music. The scale of the spectacle is dramatic and hard to describe unless its seen in person. I'll just say that when each jet of water goes off it sounds like a shotgun firing. Its a very powerful experience.

This picture was taken at sunset. You can see the sky glowing slightly warmer near the horizon. You can see the bluish gray clouds hovering just above the treetops. The fountain lights had just been turned on and the base of the waterworks is faintly illuminated. It was a wistful and romantic evening. Its how I choose to remember my time there. This is probably the last of the Vegas pictures I'll post. I'm about to retire this series. So, its appropriate that I end it with a picture of the fountain at sunset. This was my favorite evening in Vegas. If anyone is interested in seeing more of the Vegas pictures check out my web album by clicking on the Flickr link.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yard Disaster

Ugh!! I'm so annoyed. When I got home from work today there was a gas company truck sitting in the driveway. There was also a backhoe and a stack of large diameter PVC pipe. I knew this couldn't be a good sign. Sure enough, the city was laying water lines and hit a gas line. So, I'm without hot water. And, to add insult to injury there will now be an ugly ditch across my yard, and I think they'll dig up the edge of the driveway also. So, forget about having an attractive front yard this year. I'm just hoping for a hot shower.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's Spring Time, Don't ya know?

I enjoyed Vegas so much. I've got even more pictures of Vegas to share. However, I'm ready for a change of topic. If you haven't noticed, spring time is here. The flowers are blooming, things are turning green and I'm coming out of my annual winter funk.

Along with the flowers, romance is blooming around here. If you haven't been growing your flowers or growing your romance, you should check in with me more often. I can let you know how its done.

We've had a little cold snap that has bit the flowers but they'll be back in shape in no time. But, while things have been frosty in the garden the romance has been warm and cozy. Stay tuned for more about Vegas. To see more of the garden pictures, click on the Flickr link. I've uploaded a large set of garden pictures to my photo album.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Have you noticed I've added a new address to my link section of the blog? I discovered the fun of Flickr. Its an online photo sharing site. Like most artists I love photography. When I'm too busy or stressed to draw or paint I spend time snapping pics of things to use as source material for future artwork. The picture included today is one I found on Flickr. The picture was posted by Darth Roland.

I'm gonna be busy this weekend. I'm afraid I might not have time to post another blog until next week sometime. Everyone use this time to checkout my Flickr photo album and let me know what you think. Heck, while you're there you might as well sign up for your own account. Its free.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hoover Dam-Arizona Side

This picture was taken from the Arizona side of the Dam. Photographers get the best view of the whole complex from this vantage point. Its sad, though. Arizona seems to have not received the same funds to develop a park or visitor's center for their side of the complex. Nevada, on the other hand, has a museum, visitor's center with gift shop, cafe and a huge multi-story parking deck. The Arizona side had a camper trailer sitting on a dirt parking lot selling bottled water, and Porta-potties for bathrooms. Gee, how much would it cost the state of Arizona to invest in a few picnic tables and some landscaping. They might even sell a few more bottles of water to the tourists. They definitely have the best panoramic view of the dam.

The Vegas Strip Monorail

There was something about this cheesy bit of decoration I just loved. This figure is the joker that adorns the entrance of Harrah's Hotel and Casino just adjacent to The Venetian and across the street from The Mirage. It's located on The Strip. Harrah's doesn't seem to be as ornate and classy as the other Strip casinos. I would consider this place the poor man's Caesar's. Its the Belaggio of the Wal Mart Shoppers, the Venetian of the NASCAR set. The feature attraction of the place seemed to be a bar inside that was endorsed by country singer Toby Keith and named after one of his songs. I didn't get the feeling this place was "fancy".

This wasn't the kind of place I wanted to frequent. However, it was necessary for me to visit. This was the Center Strip entrance for the all-important Las Vegas Strip Monorail. Anyone not wanting to spend a fortune on taxi fares and wear out lots of shoe leather had to be a patron of the Monorail system. Therefore, one must visit Harrah's and go slumming with the trailer park folk.

I was a fan of the monorail. There were automated kiosks to purchase monorail tickets. Insert debit card, punch in numbers, out pops a ticket. You can customize your ticket to suit your transportation requirements (2 rides, 9 rides, 15 rides, a day of riding, etc.). There were stations at most of the major casino locations. The north end stopped at the Hilton (home of Star Trek stuff) and the south end at the MGM Grand. Intermediate stops were at Harrah's, Paris Hilton (the hotel, not the ho), and a couple of other unremarkable places.

We had quite a few trips on the monorail. It took us to all the major sites on the Strip. And all of the monorail stops are usually connected to a system of overpasses and escalators to quickly get you to most of the large attractions. Escalators seemed to be a secondary theme of Las Vegas. I've decided that if you count all the escalators, moving sidewalks and the monorail, Vegas probably has more rides than Disneyland.

Intake Towers

These are the intake towers at Hoover Dam. Water is drawn in at the bottom and funneled down into the generators of the dam. There are four towers sitting in Lake Mead. Two sit on the Arizona side, and two on the Nevada side. On each of the two nearest towers are large clock faces. One clock reads Nevada time (Pacific Time Zone), the other reads Arizona time (Mountain Time Zone). For half the year the clocks are one hour apart. For the remainder of the year the clocks read the exact same time. Why? Because Arizona has voted not to observe Daylight Saving Time. Therefore, when the Pacific Time Zone begins Daylight Saving Time and Arizona does not change its clocks, it brings both the Arizona and Nevada clocks into synchronicity.

The Dam Angels

These statues are beautiful. When I visited Hoover dam I expected to see the engineering wonder of it all. I didn't expect to see all the amazing art and architecture associated with the complex. Because the dam was designed and built in the 1920's and 30's it is a wonderful example of the Art Deco style. The dam itself along with the intake towers are all beautifully streamlined. By comparison, modern dams are heavy mechanical things. In contrast, the Hoover Dam emphasizes soaring, sweeping curves and lines. Although its a monstrous construction of concrete and steel, I never got the feeling of weight and heaviness when I looked at it. Instead, I got the sense of space and openness. The concave slope of the dam and its pale off-white color gives the sense that its a fragile porcelein shell barely holding back the torrents of water behind it. It belies the fact that the base of this hulk is a concrete foundation as thick as a football field.

There are a number of impressive monuments around the dam celebrating its construction. The dedication monument is my favorite. It features these two beautifully stylized and streamlined angels. It seems as if the artist is trying to remodel the bodies into aircraft forms. I understand that during this time aerospace technology was just beginning to develop. Air travel was in its infancy and the use of airplanes as weapons of war was a new concept. It's interesting that the artist would associate angels, as guardians and instruments of protection, with aircraft that also serve as guardians and instruments of defense during that time. These angels wings are very obviously inspired by aircraft wing design. There are no suggestions of feathers on these wings whatsoever. Some might argue that the patterns on the torso are suggestions of feathers. I believe them to be a stylized representation of the intercostal muscles.

There was an interesting story they tell of the statues. It is considered to bring good luck to gamblers in the Vegas casinos to rub the feet of the angels as you pass. That's an unfortunate rumor because it has rubbed off the beautiful light green patina that all old bronze statuary have. The angels toes glisten a bright coppery bronze in the sunlight. Nevertheless, it's an inspiring monument.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Dam Squirrel

After two days of casino hopping we were a little tired of that action. So, what to do? Vegas is a huge place that basically offers a whole lot of the same thing wrapped in a variety of packages. You can gamble with a tropical theme, gamble with a pirate theme, gamble with a Hollywood theme, gamble with a classy European theme, gamble with a grungy white trash theme, etc. You get the picture. So, on the third day we decided to try something different. Let's get out of town.
Our guide book and comp book from the monorail station advertised an excursion out to Hoover Dam (or Boulder Dam if you prefer). Using the coupon in the comp book we got a fair price for the trip there. It was roughly a four hour trip. Besides seeing one of the wonders of the modern world we got to do a little sightseeing along the way.
The bus was very comfortable and not too crowded. It also provided the opportunity to do a little people watching. Our favorite two people to watch on the trip were a couple of good-looking German guys in the seat in front of us. I think they were brothers because they looked very much alike. We were calling them Hans and Franz, "The Eurotrash Twins." We think they were speaking German but not really sure. I'm no expert on German. They were about the age of frat boys and just as goofy. I hope they didn't understand enough English to know we were calling them Hans and Franz (or the Eurotrash Twins).
Along the way the bus driver tried to give a little mini-tour. He pointed out various points of interest as we drove along. It was interesting at the time but I can't remember much of it now. Mostly, I remember him making a lot of silly jokes. He thought it was funny to refer to our trip as the "dam tour", himself as "the dam bus driver", and us as the "dam tourists." Personally, I got a little tired of the "dam humor."
The dam bus driver took us around to the Arizona side of the dam because we were able to get better pictures of it from there. On the Nevada side we're so close that all you get is a picture of the dam up close. From the Arizona side we got pictures of the whole complex. While we were on the Arizona side of the dam taking pictures there was a little chipmunk scampered up to us and stopped there. I was surprised at how fearless he was around people. No doubt, people tossed treats to him so often that he had come to expect it. He stood up on his haunches to beg for food. I zoomed in on him and snapped a couple of pictures. I think they turned out well. What do you think? Hence, the story of the "dam squirrel."