We’re home again and doing all of our usual “just got home stuff.” I’ll be working on photos over the coming weeks but have a small collection that I worked on but hadn’t posted yet.
This series is from time we spent at Ho’okipa Lookout near Paia, Hawaii. The waves there are often huge, and as large as they were on the day we visited, there are times when we can’t stand where we were standing. As it was, our sunglasses and my camera were covered in fine salt spray by the time we got back to the car.
I don’t know for sure, but would estimate some of the waves at 20-30 feet high! And if you look closely on some of the photos you will see windsurfers and parasailers on the water.
Well, we made it! Kathy & I arrived on Maui this past Tuesday, and that marks our 50th state visited. We’ll be here about 10 days, home on Friday, March 4.
We’ve got a pretty busy schedule and I’ve been taking a lot of photos. But I don’t think I’m going to spend much of my time at the computer, so here are a few shots from our first evening and first morning to give you all something to look at.
The scenery here is amazing, the people are terrific, the weather is beautiful and we are eating lots of fish. I love Poke, and like lobster in Maine, Hawaii is the place for Poke! 😉
Whew! After the (not) overwhelming response from my last post I needed a break. Actually, I just kind of got distracted and forgot that I hadn’t finished the series from our Florida trip.
If I had any boyhood heroes that weren’t astronauts, one of them would certainly be drag racing legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. Garlits’ name is to drag racing fans what Richard Petty’s or Mario Andretti’s names are to stock car and Indy car racing. Old fans, at least. 😉
As we were driving past Ocala, FL on I-75, I saw a sign that said “Drag Racing Museum Next Exit.” Then I saw whose museum it was! We didn’t have time to stop on our way south, but made a point to visit on the way back home from St. Petersburg. Yes, it was another museum, and art of a different kind than painting and glass! And of course Kathy was thrilled to have something else to look at besides airplanes. 🙂
Here are way too many photos from our visit. But there were way too many cars, and even this is a small sliver of what we saw. Highlight of our visit, of course, was that “Big Daddy” himself was there, giving a personal tour to a small group of fans. We listened to a few stories before they disappeared behind a door that said “Employees Only.”
Garlits has assembled an impressive collection of not only his own cars, but cars from the history of drag racing. And that is just in one building! A second building houses hundreds of mostly stock cars from the 30s forward. A few even older than that. Many of the cars are from Garlits’ personal collection, but a lot of them have been donated over the years by thoughtful and generous owners. We spent a couple of hours there. I could have spent longer, but we needed to move on up the road. So we could get home just in time for a winter storm!
When a restaurant bills itself as “The Best Italian Restaurant in St. Petersburg” and is walking distance from your motel, you need to go, right? Such was the case with Gratzzi Grille. Yeah, maybe the name isn’t spelled ‘correctly’ but I’ll bet it gets pronounced correctly!
One of the items on their menu is what they call ‘Cavatelli Bada Bing.’ It’s prepared tableside by one of the owners, and uses a lot of flaming vodka to prepare a very cheesy, very delicious cavatelli dish. I had to try it! It’s a bit more of a show than it is an example of fine Italian cuisine, but it was fun.
I didn’t take photos or videos, because I just wanted to watch. But the video below shows it better than anything I could have shot anyway. And the guy doing the cooking is the guy who did mine.
Despite being a photographer for years, I’ve never had much more than a passing interest in art, and artists, in general. Sure, I’m aware of a lot of the famous names. We’ve attended galleries and shows, and even a few art auctions on cruise ships.
After visiting The Dali’ – the museum dedicated to art by Salvador Dali’ – I now know that Dali’ was much more than the guy with the weird mustache that painted even weirder pictures. After reading and learning about the surrealist movement and the motivations and inspirations behind it, it starts – starts – to make a bit more sense. I have to believe that substances of some kind must have been involved.
Admittedly, though, seeing Dali’s art in person doesn’t really make it easier to understand or explain the imagination that must have been crucial to developing the ideas and concepts that resulted in this work. But that is what genius is.
We missed by a week being able to see work by another famous artist – Picasso. A Picasso exhibition was opening the week after our visit. That would also have been interesting, but will have to wait for another time.
Visiting both the Dali’ and the Chihuly museums is a strong reminder that there are lots of fine and worthy galleries everywhere. Charlotte even has a number of them, and we need to keep that in mind as we think about things to do and places to go.
One of the other positive things I found in both museums is that in each of them, signs said that “Photography is encouraged!” Of course they want you to tag them on social media, but that’s OK. It was a welcome approach in this age of restrictions and paranoia.
One of the highlights of our visit to St. Petersburg was The Chihuly Collection, part of the Morean Arts Center. I’ve been familiar with Chihuly’s works for years, of course, having seen pieces in several locations throughout the country. There was an exhibit in Asheville some time ago, but we didn’t make it to that one. Our most familiar example is the ceiling in the visitor center at Makers Mark Distillery in Kentucky.
I suppose all of Chihuly’s works are portable in some way, although the large chandeliers and huge static pieces would require a bit of planning, effort and logistics. It was nice to see such a nice selection all in one place.
One tip I learned at the Dali’ museum (which we visited before this but I’m going out of order) was to be sure and watch the video presentations. Although the video room at The Chihuly Collection comes near the end of the exhibit, it is still worth taking the time to learn more about the person and the process, both the artistic process as well as the actual making of the art. Quite the place!
As I mentioned in a previous post, once we found out that our cruise had been cancelled, we began looking for something interesting to do for a few days. We originally looked into a beach resort, but the temperature forecast – while warmer than North Carolina and a lot warmer than places farther north – did not seem to us to be warm enough for beach time. Maybe it was just a letdown from not being able to go to Cozumel? 😉
We settled on St. Petersburg for a number of reasons. We had never been there, it is on the water (Tampa Bay), has a number of interesting museums and looked to have some interesting restaurants. We found a Hampton Inn right downtown near the waterfront for a reasonable price, and headed that way after our time in Lake Wales.
We found St. Petersburg to be a youngish town, and in a lot of ways it reminds me of Fort Collins, but with water instead of mountains, sandals instead of hiking boots. There is a vibrant arts scene there, plenty of public space, a good selection of restaurants of all kinds, and a pretty open and accepting mindset toward people of all kinds, ages and preferences. We really felt welcome there.
After visiting a town, Kathy & I often wonder aloud about how it would be to live there. The downtown area has plenty of condos and apartments, and there were at least two grocery stores within easy walking distance of our motel. With the restaurants, shops, waterfront and museums, there would be plenty to keep anyone occupied. Of course we aren’t looking to relocate, but the hypothetical is still interesting. It looks like it would be pretty expensive, and one of the things we love about where we are is that it is not expensive, which allows us to do the travel we do. So we visit!
I’ll write separately about the museums, but wanted to share a few of the photos I made while wandering around the town on our various outings. We had lovely weather which helped a lot. There is nothing like a blue sky and sunshine to provide a feeling of warmth, especially when it is 25 degrees with snow on the ground as I write this!
We had driven past the entrance to Bok Tower Gardens several times, but it took us until the 4th visit to our friends Bill and Cathy to actually get there. It is quite a beautiful place!
The tower and gardens are the creation of Edward Bok, who was editor of the magazine The Ladies Home Journal. Ed gets most of the credit, although it appears that the money actually came from his wife, Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Mary Louise was the only child of newspaper and magazine magnate Cyrus H.K. Curtis, founder of, among other publications, The Ladies Home Journal (coincidence? 😉 ). With her daddy’s money Mary Louise founded the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She also did a lot of other good and charitable work, especially toward supporting talented young musicians.
The tower and gardens are on the National Register of Historic Places and the grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., son of Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr., known for his work with the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, Central Park in New York City and other important landmarks.
In 1925, Bok decided build a stone water-and-bell tower. He hired architect Milton B. Medary to design “the most beautiful tower in the world”. The 60-bell carillon occupies only the top of the Singing Tower, some of the rest contained large water tanks to irrigate the gardens, with Bok’s baronial study at the base. The 15-foot-wide moat surrounding the tower’s base now serves as a koi pond.
The Gothic Revival tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflecting pool that reflects its full image. The tower is 51 feet square at its base, changing at the height of 150 feet to an octagon, with each of the eight sides 37 feet wide. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and coquina stone from St. Augustine, Florida.
The tower’s 60-bell carillon was cast by Taylor & Company, of Loughborough, England. The bell chamber is on the eighth floor of the tower, and just below it is a playing room that houses the clavier, or keyboard, that controls the bells. The bells are stationary, only the clappers move to sound them. The sixth floor is a studio for the carillon player. Recitals are given daily. We got to hear one of the recitals, with the carillonneur easily viewed via video feed to a sitting area within view of the tower.
We were very thankful to have visited the tower and gardens on a day that was relatively cool, with low humidity. I can only imagine how warm and sticky it would get on a sunny day, especially in summer.
For anyone wishing to figure out the sundial, we visited on January 9. By following the instructions below the dial, it is pretty easy to calculate the (approximate) time. Yes, the answer can be found in my metadata (convert from GMT). 🙂
I haven’t felt especially wordy lately so I haven’t been posting much. But I did finish processing the photos from our recent visit to Florida. I have posted a gallery on Adobe Portfolio of a selection of all of my photos from this trip.