Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tidbits to Tempt and Tantalize....

Now it's time for a shameless plug for the RESS ezine, The Boat, of which I'm chief editor (and graciously propped up by two diligent assistant editors, Irenne Randolph and my Mom! And perhaps a third, if I can convince her to hop on board as part of the crew!). So here's the cover of the Summer 2009 issue (above), with Karen Gerhardt's lovely draft horse sculpture, Boreas, in fine bone china and overglazed by her. Previous cover pieces have been a beautiful glazed ceramic Tuesday by Lynn Fraley (who graced the cover of the first electronic issue!), a splendid bronze Ravenhill by Hilary Hurley, and the fabulous 2006 silver coin Jasper National Park of Canada for the Canadian Royal Mint sculpted by Michelle Grant.

One of the things I really like about RESS, besides the educational and professional factor, is that it promotes realistic equine sculpture art in all forms and from all venues. It also brings artists together as colleagues, something rather unusual in the model horse world which forces artists to be competitors. Yet it's different from publications from the art world because of its practical, educational slant -- and education from all facets of "equine artist life," from equine color genetics, to ceramics, to anatomical study, to business matters, to sculpting, to technology insights, to painting, to articles for beginners, to even the logistical and philosophical challenges such artists may face. Issues average about 180 pages, though this last issue was a portly 244 pages! Members get "fed" quite a bit with each issue. Some have joked that this "boat" has become a "cruise ship" -- love it!

Starting with the Winter 2008 issue, The Boat became a biannual and electronic publication (available as a downloadable PDF, or sent to the member on a CD, as a PDF). The electronic format allows us to really go bonko with material and images, something that was impossible with a printed version (in terms of costs and logistics). I even had to get a fancy industry-standard publication program InDesign® in order to publish this puppy in its growing complexity (I cannot speak more highly of this program, by the way!). It's been fun learning the program and refining my publishing skills -- the little bells n' whistles make each issue an amusing challenge, and I think it's important for an artist to exercise her left brain in equal measure! This is a new skill this stubborn old dog enjoys learning! Whenever I need a break from right brain immersion, I tinker with the upcoming issue. Now -- to figure out kerning...

Anyway, it's actually interesting to see how many organization publications are moving to an electronic format for these very reasons. Many long-time publications are moving this direction, too. But enough chitty-chat...
as promised, here are some teaser pages from the recent Summer 2009 issue. This first one offers selected pages from the approximately 20-page article about designing "medallions," or palm-sized bas-relief:

Here are some teaser pages from a 43-page article (or thereabouts) about painting conventions in order to help artists evolve beyond them and advance their own development:

Note: The text and images are copywritten to the author and to the individual artists who provided the images. So please write me for permission if you'd like to repost or reprint these teasers elsewhere or otherwise use them.

I've already started work on the Winter 2010 issue, which promises to be just as hefty. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the "painting a silver dapple" article by finishing the painting of the actual piece! I think I can now, since I've figured out my "new" painting techniques a bit more (and I'll be posting that paint job I've been talking about -- I'm almost done!). I look forward to my "quiet moments" in the office hammering out each issue, just as much as I look forward to my time in the studio. I learn so much by creating each issue, not just from writing the articles, or reading them, but in the doing of it. I'm a firm believer in learning new skills on a regular basis, and I suspect this ezine will keep my brain hummin' for a long time! If you're interested in becoming a member to receive this ezine, please visit the RESS website!

"This is the most interesting period for artists. Never before has so much diversity been acceptable. Never before has so much information been readily available to aspiring artists. All you need to do is connect." ~ Paul Foxton


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For Every High, There Must Be A Low

Life can throw some curve balls at you, ones that whip around and whack you in the side. Yesterday, I had to put my little buddy, Bixy, to sleep. He was a big boy. About three pounds and large. He also was beautiful -- lovely coloring and pretty ruby eyes. He was healthy as a horse his entire life, never needing medication (which is rare for a pet rat). But he was very old and started to show it. I knew his time was coming, though I had no idea it would be so sudden and out of the blue! His body finally started to give out and he started to crash, so I rushed him to my vet and had him peacefully put to sleep.

Bixy was quite a character, and a bit of a mystery (you can read about how I first got him here, nearly two years ago -- quite a terrible beginning). Predictably, he was a handful from day one. He was quite young (maybe eight months), and perhaps his experience left him a little "rough around the edges," but he was sweet and playful nonetheless. Beasley and Zeebee (my adult males I had at the time) had to socialize him quickly, though, as Bix was prone to playing a little too roughly and throwing his weight around a bit too much. So Beasley would adroitly flip Bix onto his back and lay on him, pinned down. That's all he'd do -- just lay on him, with this patient, "The boy is at it again," look on his face. After about twenty seconds of Bixy spazzing out, he capitulated and Beasley immediately let him up. After about two weeks of that (yes -- it took two weeks!), Bix started to behave more mannerly with the old men. It reminded me of what old bull elephants do with young bull elephants -- they teach them how to behave.

But what I didn't know was how attached Bix became to the two old guys, especially Beasley. When Zeebee and Beasley passed, Bix fell into a deep depression. He wouldn't come out to play, wouldn't eat and barely drank for nearly a week. Though he seemed to snap out of it -- he was never the same rattie again. He had suffered some kind of trauma, and he became insecure and aggressive as a result -- a bad combination. Despite my attempts to assuage him, he was my first rattie to go from being sweet and socialized to becoming an aggressive biter. And when he bit -- he meant it. Trust me when I tell you that when a rattie means to bite you out of anger, it's not something to laugh at.

This broke my heart, but I was determined to give him as good a life as I could regardless. He was my little "rebel without a cause," and over the next year and a half, I endeavored to earn his cooperation on some level. I didn't force myself on him, and that non-threatening approach was rewarded by him allowing me to pet him for a time, to give him rides on my shoulder (he'd crawl up my arm to get there), and finally being allowed to pick him up (about eight months ago). But he still retained a decided idea of his own "space," and a low tolerance to getting "buddy buddy." And was still quite hostile to anyone but me.

I believe we have things and experiences in our life for a purpose, and his presence in mine clearly was to teach me several important lessons about life, loss, empathy and patience. I'm also grateful to Hubby and my parents for tolerating an animal in my life who was dangerous -- simply out of trusting me and knowing that I needed to care for him despite anything else.

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." ~ Inuit proverb


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bald Head Island and Brookgreen Gardens

Hello from Bald Head Island!

Now it's time to divulge the glory that was our trip to the east coast! I figured I'd better get this posted sooner rather than later so I can move onto studio work. I can only focus on one thing at a time, and with beaches and Brookgreen buzzin' around in my brain, well...I had to exorcise that before I could move onto little stock stallions, paint jobs and Haffie mares! So...onward!...

As I said -- family vacations of this magnitude are the stuff of legend, and this trip certainly lived up to that promise. In a word, it was brilliant. Great company, great sights and great experiences. And enough artistic inspiration to fuel my creative yens for years to come. Like I said, I need an army of clones. Anyway, again I'll indicate my own images with a "*" so you can tell them apart from the general links. Also, each of the photos has additional commentary to add detail to this post. (And family? -- I'll be burning off CDs for each of you, with family photos which aren't contained in most of my images presented here.)

So onward!...Sunday the 11th, we head off at 4am to catch our flight. I
t was going to be a long day involving four airports -- ugh. I'm not a morning person by any means, but I was so excited, I popped wide awake at 3am. Happily, it all went smoothly and we got to Wilmington, North Carolina and our hotel without a hitch. Hubby hasn't been on many planes, unlike me, so it was fun to watch his fascination with flying through his "fresh eyes." As for Wilmington, it was our night stop (before taking the ferry in South Port, North Carolina to get to Bald Head Island the next day) and it was cool to think we were at Cape Fear! I'd seen both movies (though neither of them were filmed around Cape Fear -- poop!), and the history behind the place was interesting, too. Downtown was very nice, and very quiet, but having arrived on a Sunday, practically everything was closed for dinner. We ended up at the Hilton at the Ruth's Chris Steak house. It was the only place open! Ironically, though -- none of us ordered steak! However, we did have a marvelous meal of crab cakes, salad and roasted, stuffed chicken. And boy -- did we crash out to sleep that night. Luckily, we had time during our brief stay in Wilmington to wander around downtown with my Uncle Mike and his wife, Mary Teresa and here are some *photos I snapped.

The next day, another family member arrived, Mary Ann, and we all shuttled off to South Port to catch the ferry to Bald Head Island from the Deep Point ferry dock. To folks from the desert, the idea of taking a ferry to an island was thrilling, at least to me!
A remote island that only had ferry access! Yes. So of course, myself, Hubby and Mom perched at the bow of the ferry, outside, snapping photos like mad and enjoying this exotic experience. Little did we know that big wakes from other boats could cause the ferry to bob up and down like a bucking bronco, and splash the sea over the bow of the ship! We missed getting soaked by mere inches -- it was a hoot, like the log ride at Disney land! We were silly and goofy, and of course having a ball. We must've looked like a bunch of greenhorn tourist dorks, but we didn't care. We got to Bald Head, amidst great excitement, and caught the complementary golf cart shuttle to our "cottage." I gotta say...if where we stayed on the island was what anyone considered a "cottage," I have to see what they consider a "house!" To my delight, I saw there was a hammock strung up on the top patio deck, looking out to the ocean. I instantly had big plans to sleep on it one night, but alas....Mary Teresa was just didn't happen! (ha ha!) Even though the nights were surprisingly warm, I was just too tired to tromp up there and plop into it. Hubby and Uncle Mike got accustomed to the golf carts (as they were our designated chauffers), and I have to say...Ham got a real gleam in his eye while driving it! Motoring around in those things was a blast! We joked that we should have golf cart races, but alas...that never came to be. Here are some *photos I snapped during the chaos of the day. I think there was a total of fourteen of us all there, so you can well imagine the typical family mayhem throughout the week. Amen!

The next morning, Ham and I had to get up at o-dark-hundred to catch the early ferry back to the mainland in order to trek off to Brookgreen Gardens to meet Lesli and Addi for the day. We would have to spend the night in Myrtle Beach since there was no way we would be back to the Deep Point harbor in time to catch the last ferry back to the island that day. Ham also wanted to case the beach since there's a gigantic biker rally there that he wants to go to some day soon. Poor Uncle Mike was drafted to schelp us to the ferry landing at the break of dawn, but soon as he left to return back to the cottage, we see my cousins already there at the dock! They had a boat to go fishing for the day! DOH. Poor Uncle Mike! Anyway, I was glumly expecting to freeze my hinder off in a golf cart in the wee hour of the morning, but was stunned to find it was comfortably warm! Hazzah! we go on our ferry, get our rental car and start our adventure to South Carolina to meet up with the dynamic duo. *Here are some photos I took during the day, before and after Brookgreen (since my Brookgreen pix have their own folder). So...we get to Brookgreen.


If any of you have seen The Beatles animation film, "Yellow Submarine," (one of my very favorite movies!), and if you remember the description of the undersea kingdom as,
"An unearthly paradise...called Pepperland." Well....We found Pepperland.


'Youth Taming the Wild," by A.H. Huntington. A huuuuge stone sculpture, exquisitely sculpted and brilliantly composed.

I'll just say this -- if ever there was a place in all the world designed for the animalier's
delight, this is it. If you have even the slightest opportunity to go - GO. Seriously. No -- SERIOUSLY. You can read more about Brookgreen Gardens here and about Anna Hyatt Huntington (one of the co-founders) here and here and here. She is one of my heroines! Aside from her remarkable talent, what I admire about her is her drive to bring people together to enjoy realistic sculpture and promote the art form. Anyhoo, you can read and see more photos on Lesli's and Addi's blogs here and here. (Lesli is going to post a bigger report on her Brookgreen experience with us, so stay tuned on her blog for more!) As for myself, I've uploaded about two hundred images both Ham and I took (slimmed down from the 1,000+ images we took there!), which you can see *here. It'll take some time to savor these images, so grab a cuppa and enjoy! Again, each image has commentary to add detail, and feel free to download any image for your own reference or enjoyment.

The naturalistic energy and perfection of this African Elephant bronze sculpture totally blew me away. Alas, I forgot to record the artist! Shame on me!

"Scratching Horse" by Amory C. Simons, bronze. The genius of this humble little piece took my breath away. I was left stunned and amazed.

Another view of this master work.

"Adonis" by Eli Harvey. Consummate perfection. Truly extraordinary.

Now you may be thinking -- gosh, with all these photos, I've seen everything at Brookgreen! There's no point in going! Oooooh no. No way, Jose! Not only do none of the photos capture the true genius of any piece we shot, nor do they present all the sculptures on display (there are 1,200 works in the collection!), but the place itself is an experience. Being there is where you catch the magic! And studying the pieces up close, in detail, is mind-blowing. To see the vision, technique and personal touch of each artist is truly inspiring. We were also delighted to find out that Brookgreen has sculpting workshops! So my wee brain instantly thought -- what a grand excuse to return!

The entire week's weather was predicted to be rainy and ooky -- except for Tuesday! Somehow the planets aligned and we were at Brookgreen on the one glorious day of that week -- and glorious it was! Amazing! And I must say, the experience was made even more fabulous by the terrific company Lesli and Addi provided! It was great having Lesli as our tour guide, too. We spent seven hours walking around the place -- we closed the place down! I filled up a whole 4GB memory card and half of another with my camera -- blorg!

Hello from Brookgreen Gardens!

And I had wanted to see spanish moss while in the South (by gum), and boy -- did I see spanish moss in the Gardens! Yes. The gardens themselves were breath-taking!

A stone griffin in front of old oaks, dripping with spanish moss

There was even a little zoo of native wild and domestic critters, and I included some photos in my album. I've long wanted to create a series of equine native land races in America, and seeing the Marsh Tackys was a real impetus to churn ahead with that project. So enjoy all the photos and consider Brookgreen Gardens a destination you must visit at some point!

Beautiful Marsh Tacky mares

Through the "dog gate," a fitting end to an unbelievable, wonderful day!

After we had ravished the Gardens, we headed to Myrtle Beach to check into our hotel and get some dinner (you can read a bit about our dinner adventure on Lesli's blog). Then we walked about two miles down the beach, and back again (as if we needed more walking, but hey -- it's a beach!) -- then crashed in bed. We all met for breakfast the next day, said our good-byes and we headed back to Deep Point harbor and Lesli and Addi headed back to Charlotte to cook more shiny ponies. We had some time before the next ferry, so we decided to catch some lunch in South the Surfers Restaurant.

The local blue-hair hangout. Good food and good senior specials!

OK -- now it would seem like a totally hip local place, but we walk in and it's full of "blue hairs"! We look at the menu and see a whole host of "senior specials"! No wonder. But (not surprisingly) the food was delicious! I had my first hush puppies, and my shrimp burger was fabulous and Ham really enjoyed his homemade pulled pork sandwich. I guess those seniors know where the good food is at! We also got four pounds of head-on giant shrimp (which were turned into a tasty jambalaya for the family dinner that night!), which you can buy from vendors on the side of the road who catch them in their shrimp boats the night before. Anyhoo, here are some *photos I took of Wednesday. What as really cool about this trip (too!) was that my Aunt Christine and Uncle Jerry celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary! HOW COOL IS THAT? Congratulations! We all got verklempt with the wonderful slide show their kids put together for them. Then Susan and Chris shared a slide show of their trip to the Galapagos Islands! Holy moley, was it cool! What a tremendous experience for them! Thank you for sharing all that with us!

Thursday we spent hangin' out with the fam and seeing the sights on the island. First we took a tour of the island's lighthouse, "Old Baldy." I'm bonko over lighthouses. Always have been. I've long wanted to take a coastal tour down each coast of the lighthouses, and hopefully I can do that eventually. Anyway, Old Baldy was terrific! Quite a character, out on his island overlooking the Atlantic. What a grand old guy!

"Old Baldy," the quirky old lighthouse on Bald Head Island. Ya gotta love him! And yes -- we climbed to the top. GACK. Got some great shots of the island, though, which you can see in the link to my photos.

Then we toodled off to go fishing with the "other kids" (even though "us kids" are in our 40s, to the older generation of the fam we're still "the kids" -- love it!). I gathered more shells while Ham and the rest of "the kids" fished. We then took a hike through the forest on the island, which was unexpectedly exotic and full of surprises, such as seeing gigantic, beautifully twisted oak trees, and we even saw a deer (though don't ask me how deer got onto the island)! Susan pointed out an incredible big, colorful spider, which I couldn't photograph since my camera couldn't focus on it (dang it -- I forgot about my macro setting!). Ham quickened his pace away. "NO! NOT interested, thank you!" he politely retorted. We then got back in time for more fishing into the evening (Ham caught four fish!), then dinner. My cousin Amy introduced Ham and me to the game "Apples to Apples," which was a riot to play -- there were six of us in this raucous game! I must get it -- we love fun board games! I almost won the first game (Susan beat me by one card!), but I won the second game -- yes! We got back to our "cottage," packed up to leave the next day (since Friday was when we had to head back to Wilmington for that night, to fly out on Saturday to home), then crashed to the sound of the waves. To see photos of Thursday, please go *here.

*Friday we saw a wonderful tugboat (I love tugboats) called "Captain Alex." My brother's name is Alex, and so he'll probably never hear the end of it. Sorry little bro! We got to our hotel just fine. Mom and Dad were bushed, so Ham and I decided to got out to dinner and bring something back for them. We ended up going to Sticky Fingers, since Ham loves ribs and BBQ, and it was within walking distance of the hotel. And when in the South!...BBQ is king! We got the dry rub ribs and oh my gosh -- were they good! Ham devoured them in reverent, grunting silence. I particularly loved the sweet potato casserole that came as a side. We headed back to the hotel, dropped off the food to Mom and Dad, and crashed, watching the Syfy channel (the latest episode of Sanctuary and Stargate Universe -- yes!). But what struck us as completely insane about the area was the total lack of sidewalks! The hotel and restaurant are on opposite sides of a very busy main thoroughfare, where cars are going about 40 miles an hour, and there are no sidewalks to cross the street! WHAT?! Even the signal lights aren't timed for people crossing the road at the corners. So you just have to run! So we were the frantic chickens who crossed the road -- twice -- in order to get to Sticky Fingers and back to the hotel. We asked everyone we met, "What's the deal with no sidewalks?" and they were as incredulous about it as we were! Totally nuts.

Saturday we got to the airport via a rather eccentric taxi driver. "Everything here kills you -- alligators, biting flies, mosquitos
, water moccasins, sharks...this place is hell." Ok, then! We got home just fine (though we almost missed our connection to Phoenix! Yow!). Man...were we completely wiped out. I don't know what it is about plane travel, but it's exhausting. Thank goodness for my iPod. I listened to the Mediaeval Baebes, Loreena McKennitt, Siouxsie, and PJ Harvey (now there's a mix!) all the way there and back. I threw in a bit of The Clash, as well.

Ham shot this photo of the setting sun while we flew over Prescott Valley, AZ. We said, "Hi Uncle Mike and Mary Teresa!"

What a tremendous time! Holy cow! Thank you family for a fabulous trip, and thank you Lesli and Addi for your wonderful company! And thanks Hammy -- it's always a treat to share adventures with you!

We've been in a goofy post-vacation daze ever since we got back. Watching DVDs of one of my fave anime shows, Lupin the 3rd, has helped jostle my brain back to normal activity. When you have that kind of stimulation overload, all you really want to do is stare at a wall for a couple of days. Regardless, we were sure surprised to see that Fall greeted us off the plane! Hello! We leave green trees and come back to Fall in our faces. It's gorgeous here, and I'm starting to get into the holiday mood. I wonder when the first snow will fall? Time to think about my 2009 Christmas Rune Deer...

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." ~ Joseph Addison


Fresh Air

Seeing that carousel at the Tacoma Zoo & Aquarium stirred something from its slumber inside me. A billow of fresh air has swept through my noggin. I went back to my old sketchbooks. I don't really sketch anymore like how I used to -- I sculpt now. But in the 1991-1992 books (about eighteen years ago!), I found a bunch of ideas sketched down for my own carousel horses. Each one had a theme, or narrative, which was fun to design into the concept. And I'd forgotten about them! I've included three of them here in this blog post.

Dag gum -- I'm not going to forget about them again! I'd gotten so caught up in my current work, that I forgot about the energy of my older ideas. Just because an idea is old doesn't mean it's obsolete! I still remember the thrill of coming up with these ideas (and my head is now swimming with new ones), and I think now it's time I brought them into reality. The question is now -- should I create them as pressed tile medallions/tiles, or as "cut-out" ornaments? Hmmm. I mixture of both? Hmmmm.

Good gravy -- teapots, medallions/tiles and now this? I need an army of clones!

"Few ideas are in themselves practical. It is for want of imagination in applying them that they fail. The creative process does not end with an idea -- it only starts with an idea." ~ John Arnold


Thursday, October 22, 2009

At long last...

Black Butte, Oregon, from which Deschutes derives the name for its "Black Butte Porter," one of my favorite beers!

...the report from our trip to Tacoma, to see AC/DC! I figured I'd better get this puppy posted before diving into my recent island trip -- I just couldn't bring myself to post them out of order. I'm also rather useless in the studio for a good week after a trip of the scale of the island excursion, so I figured this would be a better use of my time than lounging around in a daze.

I've uploaded lots of photos to my Photobucket account, and I'll refer you to the respective links to peek at them (if you wish) throughout this post (the links to my images will be identified with a "*" so you can tell them apart from the other links). Almost all the photos come with commentary to add detail to this report, otherwise this post would be outrageously massive! And feel free to download any images for your own reference or enjoyment, too. spent nearly three days in Bend to visit with my brother, Alex, and his wife, Megan, and their two craaaaaazy dogs, Noah and Laker. Here is a typical "Noah-stance" (who is now a bazillion years old, but still kickin')....

You can see some images of our adventures in Bend *here. We love Bend, Oregon -- very outdoorsey and down-to-earth, but still rich with community. Also, there are ten super breweries in little Bend! Hazzah! We intend to try them all eventually. Anyhoo, we took in an art show in the park, which was similar to Boise's Art in the Park, only much smaller. But though it was small, the quality was off the charts. Amazing work! Here are some links to some of the artists there:
Then we walked around the Old Mill District -- I love it when cities refurbish their old buildings rather than demolish them -- and along the river on the greenbelt pathway for awhile. We then walked to Deschutes Brewery (one of our fave brewers -- they have a Black Butte Porter XXI that will blow your socks off, but cha gotta love super dark beers, like me!) for one of their *tours. The tasting room is free (YES), so we indulged in some libations before the tour. It was terrific -- we got there early, so it was just the two of us, and the (charming and funny) tour guide -- our own private tour! After that, we walked to downtown Bend for lunch at the Deschutes restaurant for a wholly amazing foodfest. After hearing on the tour that they use the spent barley for veggie burgers in their restaurant, I had to order one. It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Even Hubby -- who's a diehard carnivore -- loved it. We walked around downtown some more, and ended up at Mirror Pond in the park right next to downtown to relax. So beautiful!

The next day, we ventured over to the High Desert Museum -- an excellent place to spend the day. If you're in this neck of the woods, I highly recommend it! So many *beautiful artifacts, art and animals. The animal shows are terrific and educational.

This Barn Owl was particularly hypnotizing (Aunt Christine, there are more images of the owls in the link to my photos! I thought of you while I was snapping them). All the animals in the educational shows are either too socialized or were injured, and so cannot live in the wild.

Suffice to say, my inspiration bubbled out of my head after the Museum! That night we saw "District 9," which created a bit of amusing controversy. Alex and Megan didn't like it, but Hubby and I kinda did, despite the problems and the violence. To be honest, though, I was actually rather traumatized -- I was horrified over the treatment of the aliens. Deplorable! I wanted to save them! It's not a movie I'll watch again (or even recommend) -- it's too upsetting, at least to me. But we had a good time just being together and being silly, nonetheless. If you think I'm goofy, little bro is even quirkier, though in a more controlled, "dry" way than me (wink). I kept telling Hubby, "SEE - it IS genetic!"

The next day, we had breakfast at an awesome organic place (I had a very filling banana-peanut butter sandwich -- I swear, I wasn't hungry the rest of the day!) and Hubby had a terrific homemade breakfast burrito. We said our good-byes and we began our *journey to Tacoma. We were destined for Seaside, Oregon to stay the night there before we hit the final leg to Tacoma. Along the way, we'd stop in
Mcminnville, Oregon to visit with one of Hubby's friends, and another stop to visit with another friend. However -- note to self -- never use Google Maps! UGH! At key points, Google Maps was horribly wrong and we got horribly lost. And when riding a bike, mileage and gasoline are a big deal, and to make matters worse, they also make using atlas maps impossible. We lost so much time trying to find our way, that we had to cut our visit short in Mcminnville, and cancel the other one altogether -- poop! Oh well -- it's a good excuse to return later! Plus, we want to go to that famous air museum there. We need to get a Garmin or Tom Tom or sumpthin'.

On our way to Seaside, Google Maps again got us lost, and we finally pitched those directions altogether and simply went by instinct. We knew the ocean was to the west, so we just headed that direction. Phew -- we made it! Once we were on the coast highway, it was smooth sailing into Seaside. But by that time it was dark...and rainy...and cold. Oh my gosh it was cold. When we rolled into our Seaside hotel (which was on the beach -- score!), we were exhausted, freezing, stiff and hungry. While this would seem awful, it's to be expected on a bike. We always seem to have a "testing one's mettle" part of any bike journey, and this portion of the trip certainly was that. There can be no light without dark! So we scarfed down a dinner in the hotel restaurant (which was surprisingly really good!), and took a bottle of wine up to our room. We thawed out in the jacuzzi tub, then sat out on the balcony, sipping our wine and enjoying the sound of the waves until the moon was high in the night sky. Boy -- did we crash that night! Out like lights. Here's the view that greeted us the next morning:

So after breakfast, off we were again. It was a thrill going over the Astoria Bridge into Washington. You go up this wild corkscrew spiral road to get up to the entrance, then gazing over the expanse of the seascape from the bridge is stunning. Then the bridge does a biiiig dip down into Washington -- it was like a carnival ride!

Hello Washington! Along the way, we took
a detour to ride up the "Longest Beach in the World," Long Beach, Washington. Originally, we wanted to ride out to the tip of the peninsula, but gads -- it's a long beach! So half-way there, we just ran out of time and had to turn around. Next time! The ride was gorgeous and we got to our hotel before dark -- phew! We certainly didn't want to head into Tacoma, and do city riding in an unfamiliar city -- in the dark! We stayed at the Silver Cloud Inn, which was marvelous, not only because it was on the water, and within walking distance of a few good restaurants, and the room was really nice and reasonably priced, and the hotel was within a couple of miles of the Tacoma Dome (where AC/DC was to play that night)...but the staff were really terrific and their free shuttle took us everywhere in Tacoma! We only had to get a taxi twice while there cuz we needed transport after shuttle hours.

Apparently the hotel was full of fellow AC/DC concert-goers, which as a hoot. The hotel offered several shuttles to the Tacoma Dome, and we hopped onto one to fulfill the primary reason for this journey! I hadn't been to a stadium concert in years --- gosh, easily eight years, at least. The whole place was sold out and there was definitely electricity in the air!
The band formed back in 1973, and became one of the most significant influences in rock music. Living legends. So seeing AC/DC in concert was one of those things we both wanted to do before they stopped touring, and before we checked out of this life, and it was such a thrill to finally be there, experiencing it -- together!

The opening band, The Answer (an Irish band), was super (I kept thinking -- man, can you imagine being the opening act for AC/DC?! Holy cow! That must've been a thrill for them!), but we didn't really get to see them (though we could hear them!) while we waited in line for our obligatory tour t-shirts. You know a band has you wrapped around their little finger when you wait in line, standing for an hour, crammed with a bunch of other people waiting in line. But that's part of the concert experience! We finally got our t-shirts (with great rejoicing) and went back to our seats, just in time to catch some songs from The Answer and catch AC/DC as they opened up.


If I had half the energy these aging rockers had, I'd get way more done in half the time. GEEZ. They played for a good two hours, giving it 100%. They played all their old hits, and some new ones, too. The place went absolutely crazy nuts. Angus played like a man possessed and Brian belted his heart out. AC/DC blew the top off the Dome and the crowd was lovin' it. It was just full-bore rock and roll. We were all going wild!

Here's a (bad) shot taken with my cell phone of the famous bell coming down to open "Hells Bells." Brian swung from that thing like a crazy man, and it went, "BONG BONG BONG" in a deafening cry.

What was really cool was the diverse demographic of the crowd. One would think that this kind of music would appeal only to young white males -- nope! I guess a band with this history has a broader scope. Everyone was there! Even all ages! Even Grandfathers bringing their grandsons, or great grandsons! That was truly cool. Here's a good review of the concert in the Seattle Weekly. What an amazing time. Wow.

But it didn't end there!

We got up the next day to go to the famous Museum of Glass! Oh. My. Gosh. What a brilliant experience! What a treat! I adore art glass. I have a great passion for it. So this visit was a smorgasbord
for my visual sensibilities -- in short, I went ape-crazy bananas. I was almost in tears, it was so amazing. And you had to cross the famous Chihuly Bridge to get to it.


An entire ceiling and wall and towers of Chihuly works -- out there to oogle shamelessly! I couldn't believe my eyes!...

Here's one portion of the entire wall of Chihuly works.

Here's just one panel from the ceiling of the Chihuly Bridge.

Here's one of the outside installations, with the roof of The Hot Shop in the background.

Here's another outside installation, created in The Hot Shop during the visiting artist's residence there.

Now I couldn't snap photos inside the museum, but take it from me -- unbelievable exhibits. Breath-taking. Everything about the place was astonishing! The Hot Shop was particularly fascinating, since it's an actual working glass blowing studio for the visiting artist, and you get to watch him or her work their magic and ask questions (which are answered by a knowledgeable docent). When were were there, an art
ist was creating lovely, sublime penguin sculptures, but shame on me -- I lost the piece of paper on which I scribbled his name! ARGH. Anyway, here are some *photos I was able to take, and explore the web site -- lots of great stuff there! We also were advised to return and see the outdoor exhibits at night (since they're lit up!), which we did (after dinner at Stanley and Seaforts), and luckily my camera was able to get some nice shots, which you can see in my photos. If you're in Tacoma -- go to the Museum of Glass!

Then after that, we shuttled off to the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Hubby loves aquariums, and we were lucky since this is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Northwest! And it's a nice one! Wow!

They had a Leafy Sea Dragon! WOW!

A dainty, cross-legged camel! I don't think a horse could do this -- at least not intentionally! He was just chillin' like that, in between the camel rides.

Sorry Joan - I couldn't resist. It was just too funny.

Ham gets inspected by a curious 3,000+ lbs. male walrus.

These Chinese Clawed Otters were hysterical, playing and gadding about!

To see more photos I took, go *here. There was a particular exhibit in the children's section, that featured a big red button. I wondered if it should be pressed (me being a born red button pusher), and Ham said, "Go ahead -- It's a big red button. Kid's height. I think it's meant to be pressed!" So I did. After seeing what the big red button illuminated inside the habitat, I advised Ham, "DO NOT PUSH THE RED BUTTON -- EVER." See, he has a decided aversion to spiders. And what was lurking in that habitat was something eight-legged, hairy and UNNATURALLY LARGE. And staring straight at you with all its eight, glistening eyes. UP CLOSE. HUGE. Now I understood why kids came screaming out of that exhibit.

Anyway, on our way out, I discovered one more priceless gem this zoo had to offer -- a *wooden carousel, the Paul Titus Antique Carousel! I kid you not -- I got verklempt and teary-eyed. I almost started balling.

A jaunty walrus

A beautiful outside armored jumper

A splendid Sumatran tiger

I adore carousels -- real carousels, not the fiberglass knock-offs. There are so few of them left! As a very young kid, I remember watching a short movie on certain mornings on TV -- I've never forgotten it. It showed a carousel early in the morning, quiet and still. Then it starts to move by itself, whirling faster and faster. Then the picture fades out to white horses (maybe Camarque horses) running on a beach, galloping through the sea spray in slow motion. Then they fade out back to the carousel, as it slows down and comes to a stop. This movie left me spellbound every time, and in tears. Since then, I've had a fascination for carousel horses (and animals) and I've always wanted to carve a full-scale one out of wood (so a wood-carving class is on my horizon soon!). I've also been meaning to design some carousel animals for ceramic casting, as Christmas ornaments -- one of my projects for 2010! The whimsy and "narrative" of the carousel animal is similar to medallic work, which is one of the reasons it appeals to me, too. I am so thankful that there are collectors and restorers out there who are rescuing the antique carousels! And carousels are making a comeback -- check these out!
Then the next day we took an express bus to *Seattle!

What a glorious day! We lucked out!

For $12 we got two round-trip tickets -- you can't beat that with a stick! I also got a bus schedule, so we'd be flexible in our stops and our times -- we intended to eek out the very last minute out of Seattle. Luckily, downtown Seattle is unusually easy to navigate, so right off the bus, we bee-lined for the wharf-front to visit the Seattle Aquarium. It's a nicely put together *aquarium, and a good complement to the Tacoma Aquarium.

Then we hit Pike Place Market for lunch and to take in some sights, and pop so
me money into Rachel. I'm crazy about big markets like this -- like the one Kay took me to when in Philadelphia. Too fun!

Rachel says, "Oink!" (translation: "Hello!")

Then we walked to Pioneer Square, and took the hilarious (and educational) Underground Tour of Seattle. Oh my gosh -- you have to take this tour! Not only is it funny as heck, but a very eye-opening educational experience. Let's just say that Seattle's beginnings were very interesting. Afterwards, we wandered around Pioneer Square and downtown, and meandered back to Pike Place Market for dinner at the Athenian where I had the most amazing seafood "bowl" and Ham had a scrumptious salmon gyro. After we were sated, we skipped off to the Can Can to catch the show and for me to get my desired absinthe (it's the only place in Seattle to get it)!

I was enjoying my rare Absinthe!

Poor Hubby though -- he was expecting Can Can girls, but what he got was an interesting array of risque modern and interpretive dance. He'll tell you about it sometime -- his confusion over the whole thing is quite a funny story. I'll tell you this though -- it's an experience he won't forget! I really enjoyed it, Ham's befuddlement over the whole thing, and I enjoyed my absinthe even more! Yay! It was very late at that point, so we set off for our bus stop to catch the 11pm bus back to Tacoma (it's about an hour bus trip back).

At 11pm, we walked passed this street musician -- a harpist! How cool is that?

We got up early the next morning, checked out and began our day-long 8-hour trip back home. We where beat when we stumbled through our front door, but boy -- what an amazing trip! We were glad to be home -- ready to be home, but wow. From beginning to end, our time together on this adventure was a wonderland of sights and experiences! A wad of wonderful new memories!

"Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time." ~ Leo F. Buscaglia


Monday, October 19, 2009

There And Back Again

Phew! We made it back, safe n' sound. What an experience. We are exhausted, and in that post-vacation daze only a great trip can induce. Wow. We had an amazing time with my Dad's side of the fam, and an awesome time with Lesli and Addi at Brookgreen Gardens and Myrtle Beach.

I'll report more throughout the coming days as I sort through the 2,000+ photos we snapped. Yes. You're reading that right. 2,000+ photos. 1,125 photos alone at Brookgreen Gardens. Yow!

Until then, I wanted to show off my treasures I collected from Bald Head Island -- a wad of wonderful shells! (above) I love shells, and collecting them is like a treasure hunt. Happily for me, the island was littered with them! I even found a hatched Mermaid's Purse (a shark's egg case), that dark, rectangular thing in the middle of the photo.

I also take my travel talismans with me on every trip (I'm just weird that way) (below). My lucky marble and horse I found along the roads at various times, and the beaded string Merryl made me years ago when she was a young girl and the Pokemon card Lloyd gave me years ago, when he was a wee tot (Merryl and Lloyd are Laurie Jo's kidlets, both of whom are in college now -- how the years sweep by!). Otherwise, they reside in my purse for everyday.

Anyway, what shocked us on our return was the presence of Fall in bloom -- we leave for a week with green trees, then return to Fall-kissed foliage! So until I post about my island trip (and our Seattle-Tacoma trip) are some Fall images from our yard...

I now have my Charmkins back from my rat-sitter. JOY! I was jonesin' for my Blobbies in a big way. Life is slowly getting back to normal, and we're "remembering" our routines again. You know you've had a great experience when you come back feeling a little askew from your everyday life.

"Little by little, one travels far." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Related Posts with Thumbnails