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Friday, November 1, 2013

Coeur d’Alene Mission, Idaho

By Diana Russler and Bill Gent
Mission of the Sacred Heart, Coeur d"Alene, Idaho

            The Western United States is full of surprises – breathtaking vistas, deserted ghost towns, fascinating stories that prompt an “I didn’t know that!” from us as we explore remote nooks and crannies. Get off on any small road and chances are you will find something unexpected. That is exactly what happens to us in Cataldo, Idaho, site of the Coeur D’Alene Mission.
Interior of the Chapel
            Sitting on the top of a hill overlooking the landing on the eponymous river, the tiny 160-year old mission building looks out over land once farmed by Native Americans. Today it is a National Monument.
            The wattle and daub structure contains not a single nail.  To build the mission, large hand-cut logs
were stacked and interwoven with lattices of saplings and grass and then the entire structure was caked with mud. To decorate the interior one-foot thick walls, old newspapers were hand-painted and pasted on. Strips of fabric were also used to add touches here and there.  The interior color strikes us immediately. It is not paint. Instead, the blue coloring of the walls comes from pressing local huckleberries into the wood of the structure. Other flourishes include chandeliers made from tin cans and hand-carved wooden statues.
            Next to the chapel stands the parish house, a two-story structure dating to 1887 (the original burned down). The upstairs was used as sleeping quarters and the downstairs for daily activities.
            Although the Church was built in 1853 by the Coeur d’Alene tribe, the mission was in the making for many years before that. The tribe had heard from others about powerful medicine men in black robes with a book and wanted one for themselves. A delegation was sent to St. Louis to ask and in 1842, Pierre Jean de Smet, a Jesuit, arrived at the boat landing. The relationship between the Mission and the Coeur D’Alene tribe was a harmonious one perhaps because years earlier Chief Circling Raven had a vision of the black robes and their new religion and had spoken positively about them.
            Stop at the Visitors Center for a fascinating video about the Mission and life in the area. Then wander up the hill to the little weather-beaten church where you will be asked to remove your shoes to enter.
            Don’t miss the tiny cemetery at the bottom of the hill. Over 300 are buried here but few markers
Tombstone of Louis Siuwheem Polotkin
remain. One grave that still has a tombstone belongs to Louise Siuwheem Polotkin, a great grand-daughter of Chief Circling Raven, born 1800, died 1858, one of the first Coeur d’Alene to be baptized by De Smet.
            Nearby is the tomb of Eli Assad, a homesteader from Lebanon b 1874-d 1910, another fascinating piece of the mosaic that characterizes the western USA.

IF YOU GO
The Coeur d’Alene Mission of the Sacred Heart is located at 31732 South Mission Road, Cataldo, Idaho. Take Exit 39 on I-90 about 26 miles east of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Monument is open from 0900-1700 between April and October and 1000 – 1500 from November to March. Fees are $5 per car.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Mt Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon


By Diana Russler and Bill Gent
 
Panorama of the Cascades from Larch Mountain
           
Mt Hood from Frog Lake
             There are few places that evoke the grandeur of the American Pacific Northwest better than the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River Gorge.  Flowing 1,200 miles from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific, the 80 -mile segment that runs along the Washington-Oregon border is so crammed with beauty that it is hard to appreciate it in a single visit.
            We arrive at the Gorge having driven from the southern Oregon coast, through the Central Cascades to Bend and north to Mt. Hood. It is a route that takes you through unexpected scenery – vast lava fields that rival those of Hawaii, lush forests with waterfalls, glacier-covered volcanic peaks, sparkling blue lakes and even a desert! For a photographer, it is a dream!
Multnomah Falls
            You think you have seen everything, and then Mount Hood comes into view. Dominating the skyline for miles, the 11,235 foot mountain is the tallest in the state.  In the forests approaching the mountain are countless lakes where you can stop to photograph reflections of the semi-dormant volcano that the Native Americans call Wy’east, son of the Great Spirit. Mirror and Trillium Lakes are amongst the most popular but we opt for the less crowded Frog Lake.
            Mt Hood is one of the only mountains in the Cascades that you can drive up. Sitting at 6,000 feet is the historic Timberline Lodge, built during the Depression where, even in August, skiers are busy donning boots and hats for an afternoon on the glacier. Be sure to take a peek inside at the wooden beams, wrought iron decorations and hand carved furniture.  
            For a truly panoramic view of the Columbia River and the string of peaks that characterize the area, drive 14 miles through lush, green forest up Larch Mountain where on a clear day you can see the volcanic peaks of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mt Jefferson. (The road is closed in the winter).
            On your way back down, stop at the Portland Women’s Forum Park east of Corbett for iconic views of the Gorge, Beacon Rock, Vista house and the Bonneville Dam. Originally, this was the site of the 1912 Chanticleer Hotel which burned down in 1931.
             Further down the road is Crown Point, topped by the octagonal stone Vista House. Perched on a 733-foot sheer rock cliff,  the elegant 1916 Art Nouveau observatory provides superb views of the Columbia River and some of the brown and black basalt cliffs that line the gorge. Once, it was a place for travelers to rest as they traveled down the Historic Columbia River Highway. Even Lewis and Clark camped below this cliff as they pushed towards the Pacific Ocean.
Vista House and Columbia River Gorge
            Just north of Vista Point, the Columbia River Gorge is all about waterfalls – 77 on the Oregon side alone – of every description -- plunge falls, fan falls, cascade falls, horsetail falls and more. There are 11 just on this 9 mile stretch! The most popular and most easily accessible of the falls is Multnomah, a spectacular, 620-foot, two tiered waterfall, spanned halfway up by a masoned arched bridge. You can climb up to the top of the falls in about an hour, through a forest of Douglas fir and lush undergrowth.  When you are done, stop at the Multnomah Falls Lodge for lunch. The restaurant is famous for its wild huckleberry pie! Most of the other waterfalls are reached by hiking from well-marked trail heads.
            As you leave this stretch of the river, you will find a huge hydroelectric station – the Bonneville Dam. This was one of the largest New Deal projects of the Depression era. Woody Guthrie sang about the power produced by the dam - “Roll on Columbia, roll on, your power is turning the darkness to
dawn.”
Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks
            Since the Columbia River is filled with salmon, leaps had to be built that would permit the migrating fish to get around the dam. If you go down to the third level beneath the entrance of the Bradford Island Visitors Center, underwater windows allow you to watch salmon fighting the current to swim past. Some of them are huge! There are also sturgeons in these waters, great big prehistoric-looking monsters that can be seen at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery.
            If you want to explore the river from the water, in the town of Cascade Locks (44 miles east of Portland), look for the 145- foot sternwheeler, Columbia Gorge, where you can take a cruise on the river during the summer months.  Nearby is the famed Bridge of the Gods Bridge that will take you across to Washington State.
            Otherwise, at Hood River, try your hand at windsurfing or kite boarding. The winds here are legendary as the westerlies are channeled through the gorge against the river’s current. Aficionados are on the water from day break to sunset, their colorful sails punctuating the green of the gorge.

Sternwheeler on Columbia River
            The Grande Dame of hotels on the river is the Columbia Gorge Hotel, perched on a rock 200 feet above the water. Its 13-acres of gardens are filled with native Oregon plants, bisected with streams whose water flows into the hotel’s own waterfall, the Wah-Gwin-Gwin, tumbling over the rocks to the river below.
            Built by Oregon lumber magnate Simon Benson in 1921, it was the “Waldorf of the West,” attracting the glitterati of the age including Presidents Roosevelt and Coolidge, Shirley Temple and others, including Rudolph Valentino for whom this was a favorite hideaway. The lounge is named after him.

            This area of Oregon is famous for its fruit! If you are there in the summer don’t miss the many farm stands selling fresh cherries, pears, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, apples and more for which this area is famous! You certainly will not go hungry! Oh yes, I forgot the wine!
            Although you can cram quite a bit into a long weekend, if you truly want to experience this area of Oregon, you will need at least a week, a month or a lifetime.


Gardens at Columbia Gorge Hotel
PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:
Bring all your lenses and a tripod! This is probably one of the most photogenic locations in Oregon. A neutral density filter is a must for photographing the waterfalls and a polarizing filter will cut the glare from the glaciers. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular as are the wildflowers in the spring and summer.

IF YOU GO
To explore the Columbia River Gorge, start in Portland, Oregon on the I-84. You can exit at Troutdale (Exit 17), Lewis and Clark State Park (Exit 18), Corbett (Exit 22) or Dodson (Exit 35). Look for signs that say “Scenic Road” which refer to the Historic Columbia River Highway, also known as US30, America’s first scenic road, finished in 1915. See www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa.
Vista House (Open mid-April to mid-October; www.vistahouse.com)
Multnomah Falls Lodge (Tel 503-695-2376; open year round, 8 am to 9 pm; www.multnomahfallslodge.com)
Bonneville Dam (Bradford Island Visitors Center; Tel 541-374-8820; free admission 9-5; www.nwp.usace.army.mil)
Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler (Tel 503-374-8427; daily cruises. Sunset dinner cruises on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; www.portlandspirit.com/sternwheeler.php)
 Columbia Gorge Hotel (4000 Westcliffe Drive, Hood River, Oregon; tell 1-800-345-1921; www.columbiagorgehotel.com)

           

            

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sea Stacks, Sunsets and Spot Prawns in Bandon, Oregon

By Diana Russler and Bill Gent

 
Bandon, Oregon Sea stacks at Sunset


            The Nah-So-Mah Tribe of south-west Oregon has a beautiful legend to explain the monolithic Face Rock and the sea stacks that punctuate the pristine beach at Bandon, Oregon.
Sea stacks at low tide, Bandon, OR
            According to the story, Princess Ewanua and her father, Chief Siskiyou, were visiting tribes along the coast. The local tribes were afraid of the evil spirit of the ocean, Seatka, but Ewanua, being from the mountains, did not have such concerns. After a great feast, while the tribes lay sleeping, Ewanua, carrying her cat and kittens in a basket, together with her dog, Komax, walked to the ocean to swim in the swirling currents.
             Suddenly Ewanua was grabbed by the evil sea spirit. The dog, Komax, carrying the basket of cat and kittens in his mouth, tried to rescue his mistress, biting Seatka. Howling with rage, the monster threw the basket far out to sea and kicked away the dog. He tried to get Ewanua to look him in the eye, which she refused to do, knowing that his power lay in his eyes.
            In the morning the tribes found Ewanua, turned to stone, her face looking up at the sky, refusing to look at Seatka who is nearby. Komax, the cat and kittens lie to the west waiting for their mistress to return.
            We first hear this legend sitting in Lord Bennett’s Restaurant along the cliff tops of Bandon. With its panoramic 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, it is the perfect spot to watch the sun setting behind the majestic rock formations, including Face Rock, in the midst of the swirling sea and sand.
            Named after the Irishman who emigrated from Bandon, Ireland and is credited with naming the town, Lord Bennett’s specializes in seafood that is locally sourced and seasonally produced. The most popular plate is a combination platter of grilled fish with scallops, prawns, steamer clams, and
mussels, sautéed in garlic butter.
Lord Bennett's Restaurant, Bandon, OR
            In the summer, in addition to the freshly caught wild salmon, the local delicacy is grilled spot prawns. Also known as Alaskan prawn, this large shrimp is found in the North Pacific, especially Alaska. It is fished by a single fisherman from Coos Bay from a deep trench off the coast of Bandon, Oregon. And you can only eat them at Lord Bennett’s because chef/owner, Rich Iverson, makes a point of buying up the entire catch during the few weeks of the year that it is available.
            The prawns arrive surrounded by rice, sweet corn and vegetables. They are split in half and perfectly grilled. Tender and sweet, they are like small lobsters. We enjoy them so much that we come back two nights in a row.
A plate of spot prawns
            Of course, that is not all that we have. A dozen Kumamoto oysters on the half shell, a bowl of clam chowder so thick that the spoon stands upright, and freshly baked bread round out the meal, accompanied by a glass of local Pinot Gris. Although the desserts look very appetizing, we simply can’t any more.
            Rich comes by for a chat. Although he is also the chef, on the week-ends he likes to work the front, chatting with patrons and keeping an eye on his super-efficient staff who keep the water glasses topped up and the bread basket filled.

            As the sun turns the sky into a canvas of orange, purple and red, we raise a glass to Princess Ewanua, as she looks skywards!
           
 IF YOU GO
Lord Bennett’s Restaurant is at 1695 Beach Loop Drive, Bandon, OR; Tel 541-347-3663; www.lordbennett.com; (Dinner is served daily 5-9 pm; lunch is served only on Friday from 11-1 and brunch is available on both Saturday and Sunday (10am/11am to 2 pm)).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Allegria Travels East – Washed Ashore in Bandon, Oregon

By Diana Russler and Bill Gent
 
Avery at Washed Ashore, Bandon, Oregon
           
Mounds of ocean garbage 
           Next time you reach for a plastic bottle of water, consider this -- out of the 2.5 million plastic bottles bought every minute in the US, only 1 in 6 ends up in the recycling. Many of the others end up in the oceans, polluting pristine beaches and killing marine life. The problem seems so overwhelming that most people shrug their shoulders and say “What can I do about it? I am only one person!” Not so Angelina Haseltine Pozzi! Her response shows how one determined individual can make a difference. Let us introduce you to the Washed Ashore project.

            Our first introduction to Angela and her Washed Ashore project is in downtown Bandon, Oregon, an idyllic small town on the south coast of the state. As we walk through the center, two enormous sculptures appear in a vacant lot – Harry the Fish and Lidia the seal, both made entirely of garbage.
Squid sculpture made of plastic bottles
            Henry seems to shimmer in the sun, the orange, yellow and red of his plastics and metals catching the light. He consists of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, lids and flip flops, all collected on the beach

            Lydia is a 9-foot giant seal, her neck ensnared with plastic netting to draw attention to the problem that seals face becoming entangled in discarded nets.
            Intrigued, we stop in the Washed Ashore gallery where a whole new world opens before us.  Enormous sculptures fill the space, some hanging from the ceiling, others on the floor, still others affixed to the wall.
            As we walk into the hall, we pass under strands of rope, plastic bits, toys and other bits of plastic attached like tentacles to a steel frame. This is the representation of the gyre where the millions of tons of garbage are floating. It is designed to give you an idea of what a fish sees when it swims through those piles of marine trash.
            Next to it is the “Oil Spill,” created from black garbage – eel traps, car parts, flip flops, plastic toys. It looks as evil as the mess that it is modeled on.
            Near the back of the room, a giant jelly fish dangles from the ceiling. Look closely and you will see that his tentacles are made of plastic water bottles and plastic bags that shimmer in the light
Fish bites, Washed Ashore
            A 12-foot high 10 foot long whale bone cage hangs from the ceiling, created with white plastic bottles and other white items, one with Japanese writing on it.
            In the back corner, Tula the turtle is made from a giant green garbage can lid, bottles, lighters and netting.
            A montage on the wall entitled “Fish Bites” illustrates how fish nibble pieces off the plastic that ends up inside the stomachs and, ultimately, kills them

            In the back of the room several tables are covered with piles of cleaned plastics – plastic bottles, cups, lids, flip flops, lighters, abandoned toys, even shotgun casings. Around the table are groups of adults and children, taking part in a workshop that takes place twice a week.
             At one table we find grandparents sitting with their grandchildren, putting together bits of plastic into “kabobs” that will be used in a new sculpture. We ask one of the children what the experience has taught them. “To use and reuse,” said one little girl. “To take care of our oceans,” said another.
Washed Ashore Workshop
            Angela is a firm believer that by involving as many people as possible, across the generations in the creation of these giant sculptures, there will be a gradual change in society as people think about the impact of disposable plastic on marine life. “Ocean plastics outweigh the amount of plankton by at
least 6 to 1.” She says.  “The power of art can carry an urgent message to the public. We must promote public awareness of the global issues associated with marine debris.”
            Formerly an art educator and accomplished artist, Angela had returned to her childhood home of Bandon after a family tragedy to heal herself along the serene coastline. What she found was a town where the beaches were clogged with plastics and other garbage, floating in on the waves from the Pacific Ocean, where an enormous gyre, (which Greenpeace estimates is the size of Texas) sucks in discarded trash before regurgitating it onto the beaches when the currents and winds are right.
Washed Ashore, The Gyre
            The impact on marine life is devastating. Birds become tangled in nets or discarded soda can rings; to a sea turtle a plastic bag looks like a jelly fish; and pieces of plastic are turning up in the stomachs of birds and fish across the country. (You may have seen the horrific video shot by Craig Leeson about the Midway Atoll where dissected carcasses reveal enormous amounts of plastics in the stomach of albatrosses.)

            Determined to do something, Angela established a project under the auspices of the Artula Institute for Art and Environmental Education, of which she is the Executive Director. With the help of 1,000 volunteers, over the period from 2012, 3.5 tons of marine garbage are collected and taken to the warehouse where other volunteers wash, dry, sort and cut the trash into pieces that can be used in giant sculptures, all made entirely from ocean debris and representing the marine creatures that are at risk.  Outside the warehouse (actually a series of Mongolian gers) is Avery the Albatross, also made from garbage, including some of the plastic pieces that would typically be found in a bird’s stomach.
            Angela is assisted by a number of individuals, including her husband, Frank Rocco who serves as Director of Development and her deputy, Justin Hill, who first joined the project on an art internship before becoming a member of the operation.
            The project has been embraced by the citizens of Bandon who contribute where they can – collecting plastics or providing free lodging for outside volunteers who work a minimum number of hours, etc. Volunteers are very welcome, if you are looking for a worthwhile project to help.
Angela at work in her studio
            Washed Ashore is also drawing the attention of a number of marine institutes where the giant sculptures are scheduled to be displayed in 2014. The more attention that can be focused on the issue of marine pollution and plastics, the better the chances that a solution might be found.

            So the next time you reach for the plastic bottle of water or watch your flip flops being pulled out to sea on a wave, think of where that plastic is going to end up and think about what you can do to make a difference. Angela and her team did. So can you. It is our collective responsibility!
           

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact the Artula Institute (attention Washed Ashore); POB 1139, Bandon, OR 97411; Tel 541-329-0317. www.washedashore.com.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Allegria Travels East – The Victorian Houses of Eureka, California

By Diana Russler and Bill Gent
 
Carson Mansion, Eureka, California
           
The Pink Lady
            During the late 1800s, Victorian houses were very popular in northern California. In San Francisco, entire neighborhoods are filled with these colorful, cheerful abodes. In Napa, these old grandes dames have been converted to Bed and Breakfasts that are favorites with those visiting the valley to sample the wines. We are surprised, however, by the richness of Victorian-inspired architecture in Eureka, the largest town in Humboldt County, where over 1,500 buildings qualify for the national register of historical places.

            Despite its name, Eureka is a gritty town, trying hard to recover some of its previous prosperity. Its name comes from the Greek “I have found it!” which is also the motto of the State of California. This was allegedly the expression used by successful gold miners during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s.
            Amongst the many Victorian houses built in Eureka and neighboring Arcata by gold miners and timber barons, there is none more stupendous than the Carson Mansion. In fact, it is considered by many to be the finest Queen Anne-style Victorian house in America.

The Carter Inn, Eureka, CA

            Built between 1884 and 1886 by well-known San Francisco architects, Newsom and Newsom, it incorporates not only Victorian architecture but also Gothic, Italian and French elements thrown in for good measure. The three-storied, 18-room structure has gables, turrets, balconies, wrought iron decorations and a balcony. At Christmas time the entire structure is decorated with lights, making it look like a giant gingerbread house.
            The owner, William Carson was a timber baron whose lumber mills were located nearby. He lived at a time when it was acceptable to cut down redwood trees. In fact there is a photo of him posing with at least 10 other men inside a tree with a chunk removed. Who knows how old and big that giant was?
            The silhouette of the house has become the archetypal “haunted” house including for the Addams Family and  many believe that the house is haunted by at least three, if not more, ghosts.
            After Carson’s death the house was almost demolished because of the cost of upkeep. It was saved when the men’s club of Eureka stepped in and purchased it. Today it is not possible to visit the interior of the house which is owned by the Ingomar Club.
            Across the street from the Carson Mansion is an exquisite pink and white Queen Anne house built in 1889 by the same architects. Known as 'The Pink Lady,' it was a wedding present from William Carson to his son John Milton. Its domed turret, layering and surface undulations make this a perfect example of Victorian architecture.
The Queen Anne B and B, Arcata
            Just down the street is the orange and brown Carter House. The original, known as the Murphy House, built by Newsom and Newsom, stood in San Francisco and was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. The plans for the house were found by Mark Carter in 1978 in a Eureka antique store. He used them to recreate the house in 1982 and has turned it into the Carter House Inn.
            The nearby town of Arcata, location of Humboldt State University, is also home to numerous Victorian houses, none more lovingly restored than the Lady Anne B and B Victorian Inn. Built in 1888 in the Queen Anne style, the house overlooks Humboldt Bay.
            As the old saying goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover.’ Eureka (and Arcata) certainly surprise us with the elegance and charm of their architecture.


IF YOU GO
If you are in Eureka, the best place in town to stay is the Carter House Inns (301 L Street, Eureka, CA; 800-404-1390; www.carterhouse.com). The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner. Cookies and tea are served in the lobby at 8 pm. A great deal of attention is paid by the staff to ensuring that your stay is perfect.
If you are in Arcata, the Lady Anne Bed and Breakfast Victorian Inn is the place to stay. (902 14th Street) Arcata, CA; Tel. 707-822-2797.
            

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Allegria Travels East -- Northern California’s Giant Redwood Trees

                                                       
                                                        By Diana Russler and Bill Gent

 
Redwood Trees of Humboldt County, California


Avenue of the Giants, California
            Redwood trees grow from Big Sur, California to the Oregon border and in the Sierra mountains, but it is only on the northern coast of California in Humboldt and Del Norte counties that you will find the tallest and largest stands of old growth coast redwood trees. These towering giants never cease to capture our imagination!
Driving along California’s beautiful craggy coastline, you will find miles of trails winding along the cliffs with arches and caves; there are expanses of unspoiled beaches and rivers; old towns complete with Victorian houses are nestled here and there. There is even a large area known as the Lost Coast, where the wilderness remains untouched and essentially inaccessible (there are no roads) except for the most stalwart hikers and campers.
Nature's Cathedral, Redwood Trees
Then there are the 13 State and National Parks of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties where you will find the most impressive stands of trees. When logging began in the 1850s, there were almost 2 million acres of coast redwood trees in the coastal mountains of California. Today only 5% remain, of which over 35% are located in these parks.
There are, in fact, three types of redwood trees in the world – dawn redwood trees found in China, and in California, the giant sequoias of the Sierras and the coast redwoods. All redwoods are cone-bearing trees and get their common name from the color of their bark and wood.
As we drive north towards Oregon, we detour off Highway 101 to follow the Avenue of Giants (State Road 254) that parallels the highway for 32 miles in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It was originally built for the stagecoaches that traveled up and down the Pacific Coast of California.

Inside a fallen giant
This is California’s third largest state park, 53,000 acres of redwood trees, located between the tiny settlements of Myers Flat and Weott. Park Headquarters is located just a few miles south of Weott, and the Visitors center is worth a quick stop to pick up maps of the different groves in the region.
Inching along under the canopy of massive branches, we stop frequently to admire the enormous, ancient giants, some of which are 500 years old and 200 feet high (there are other trees in the region that are more than 2,000 years old!). This is nature’s cathedral! There is a sense of peace and reverence as you stand in the silence of the trees and ferns that grow around them, sunlight dappling the scene much as if it were filtered through a stained glass window. Stand quietly near one of these giants and breathe in the musty, earthy aroma that is unique to Redwood forests. It is an unforgettable experience.
Chandelier Drive-through Tree
Examine a redwood closely; notice the burls that grow out of the sides, many seemingly shaped like human faces! Is this where Tolkien drew his inspiration to create the Ents – the shepherds of the trees? In fact, each of these burls is capable of sprouting a brand new tree should something happen to the original!
This is in sharp contrast with the arcade-style atmosphere we find at the Chandelier Drive-
Through Tree. It is one of only three drive-through trees in northern California, all privately owned (a fee is charged to visit). In the base of an enormous redwood, whose branches grow out of every side, much like the arms of a crystal chandelier, someone in the 1930s (at a time when caring for the environment was not a matter of concern), carved a 6 ft. wide and almost 7 ft. tall opening through which you can drive your car!
In addition to the massive trees, this part of California (which is a World Heritage Site) is also home to herds of Roosevelt elk, the largest of the species to be found in North America. Look for them along the highways and, especially in Elk Meadow. We ran across the 40-animal herd by the side of the road, grazing under the trees, the stag carefully keeping a wary eye out for humans that might get too close to his harem.
With all its gifts of nature, this area of California should be on your “must-see” list of places in the USA where you can let your imagination run wild and your senses return to nature!
           
PHOTO TIP:
Roosevelt Elk Stag
The contrast between light and dark under the redwood canopy makes for challenging photography on a sunny summer day. Ideal conditions for photographs would be early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on a foggy/overcast day when the light is muted through the canopy. Nevertheless, by adjusting your ISO and  bracketing shots, you should be able to preserve your memories of the experience.  Capturing the grandeur of the trees is quite difficult; taking close-ups of the burls that grow on the sides of the redwoods can produce some interesting effects.

To photograph the elk, a telephoto lens that keeps you a safe distance away from them is recommended. Although they seem tame, they can turn aggressive at any time, especially if the bull elk feels that the females of the herd are being threatened!

IF YOU GO:
Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the 30 mile-long Avenue of the Giants are located about 240 miles north of San Francisco along CA Highway 101.
The Chandelier Drive-Through Tree is located at 67402 Drive Through Tree Road, Leggett, CA, at the junction of US Highway 101 and Hwy 1, 175 miles north of San Francisco.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Allegria Travels East!

            


           



               After four wonderful months in California, we are now resuming our journey, returning to New York. Our route this time starts from Yountville, in Napa Valley,  north and east through Oregon and eastern Washington. We will continue driving through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota, before heading north into Canada, where we will circumnavigate the Great Lakes  and back to NYC via Niagara Falls.
            The total distance is listed as 4,290 miles on Google maps; however, with side trips and serendipitous discoveries, we expect it will be more like 6,000! We expect our journey to last about a month. Join us on the journey!