Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy Horse Memorial... South, Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in the form of Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance.
The memorial consists of the mountain carving (monument), the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural center. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain on land considered sacred by some Native Americans, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 8 miles (13 km) away from Mount Rushmore.
The sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.
The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If finished, it will be the world's largest sculpture.
The mountain carving was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum in 1924. In 1939, Ziolkowski had received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear, which stated in part "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too."
The memorial is a not-for-profit undertaking, and receives no federal or state funding. Ziolkowski was offered $10 million from the federal government on two occasions, but he turned the offers down. Ziolkowski felt the project was more than just a mountain carving, and he feared that his plans for the broader educational as well as cultural goals for the memorial would be left behind with federal involvement.
Ziolkowski died in 1982. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ziolkowski's wife Ruth and several children remain closely involved with the work, which has no fixed completion date. The face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated in 1998.

Crazy Horse resisted being photographed, and was deliberately buried where his grave would not be found. Ziolkowski, however, envisioned the monument as a metaphoric tribute to the spirit of Crazy Horse and Native Americans. "My lands are where my dead lie buried," supposedly said by Crazy Horse, is the intended interpretation of the monument's expansive gesture.

12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD 57730-8900
P: 605.673.4681

Badlands... Interior, South Dakota

"I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands."
--- Frank Lloyd Wright

I've been to Badlands once and when I look back over my photos I see a lot of missed oppertunities. The quote is fitting...
I need to go back

Containing the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 37-28 million years old, the evolutionary stories of mammals such as the horse and rhinoceros arise from the 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. Bison, bighorn sheep, endangered black-footed ferrets, and swift fox roam one of the largest, protected mixed-grass prairies in the United States.
Authorized as Badlands National Monument on March 4, 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation on January 25, 1939 that established Badlands National Monument. In the late 60's, Congress passed legislation adding more than 130,000 acres of Oglala Sioux tribal land, used since World War II as a U.S. Air Force bombing and gunnery range, to the Badlands to be managed by the National Pakr Service. An agreement between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the National Park Service governing the management of these lands was signed in 1976. The new Stronghold and Palmer Creek units added lands having significant scenic, scientific and cultural resources. Congress again focused it's attention on the Badlands in 1978 on 10 November, it was redesignated as Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park is located in Southwestern corner of South Dakota just north of the town of Interior. Badlands is located in Pennington and Jackson Counties.

25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, South Dakota 57750

Monday, January 19, 2009

HIgh School... Monument Valley, Arizona

This school is just west of Monument Valley.
Highway 163
Kayenta, AZ 86033

Yosemite National Park... California

The majestic sights of Yosemite delight and inspire visitors of all generations. Take a quick tour of some of our most amazing natural features, and the plants and animals that make the park their home. Our most-popular Yosemite attractions include:

Waterfalls are a Yosemite hallmark, drawing visitors from around the globe year after year. Because many of Yosemite’s waterfalls are fed by snowmelt, the amount of water rushing over each waterfall can vary widely throughout the year. In addition to those below, numerous other falls can be seen during the spring run-off or after a heavy rainstorm.

Yosemite Falls (Upper, 1,430 ft.; Middle, 675 ft.; Lower, 320 ft.) is one of the tallest in North America and fifth highest in the world with a total drop of 2,425 feet.
Bridalveil Fall (620 ft.) called "Pohono" or "spirit of the puffing wind" by the Ahwahneechee Indians. The wind often blows the falls sideways giving it the appearance of a "bride's veil".
Ribbon Fall (1,612 ft.), which flows off a cliff on the west side of El Capitan, is the tallest single fall in North America.
Illilouette Fall (370 ft.) is visible from below on the John Muir Trail. From Washburn Point, just before you get to Glacier Point, there's a more spectacular view of its brink and stony gorge.
Vernal Fall (317 ft.) and Nevada Fall (594 ft.) are visible from the Mist Trail. and rewards hikers with a refreshing, rainbow-filled shower on hot spring days.
Horsetail Fall (1000 ft) is a seasonal waterfall flowing off the eastern cliffs of El Capitan. This Yosemite waterfall’s location affords a spectacular effect intermittently during the last two weeks of February. During this time, it is backlit by the sun causing it to glow orange as though it were on fire.
Waterfalls Outside Yosemite Valley-
Chilnualna Falls (300 ft), a long series of cascades culminating in a large drop, all located about 4.1 trail miles from Wawona, in Southern Yosemite.
Waterwheel Falls (700 ft) gets its name from its ridged 50-55 degree incline causing the water to strike the ridges and loop back – creating the “Waterwheels” Best seen during spring run-off. Located downriver from Tuolumne Meadows.
Tueeulala Fall (1000 ft) and Wapama Falls (1700 ft), both located in Hetch Hetchy, accessible via Evergreen Road along Highway 120, a few miles from the main 120 entrance. While Tueeulala Fall does dry up by mid-summer, Wapama maintains a large flow all year long. Due to security for Hetch Hetchy, the road to the area closes at night. Check with the National Park Service for more info on the hours of operation for the road.

Yosemite Valley, approximately 3,000 feet deep and less than a mile wide, is known for its incredible rock formations, created from plutonic rock that cooled far below the earth’s surface. Some of the most famous formations are:

Half Dome (8,842 ft.) among the most recognized natural features in Yosemite, its western face is a sheer cliff of Plutonic granite - the youngest in Yosemite.
Sentinel Rock (7,038 ft.) on the south side of Yosemite Valley, named for its likeness to a watchtower.
El Capitan (7,569 ft.) towering 3,593 ft. from the valley floor, rock climbers from around the world come to challenge their abilities on its granite face giving visitors an excellent opportunity to view this unique sport.
Mt. Lyell (13,114 ft.) the tallest peak in the park, its steep slopes are home to the largest active glacier in Yosemite, the Lyell Glacier, which is about 1/4-mile-square.
Mt. Dana (13,053 ft.) and Mt. Gibbs (12,764 ft.) flanking Tioga Pass in Tuolumne Meadows.
Matterhorn Peak (12,264 ft.) is one of a series of peaks that make up the spectacular Sawtooth Ridge on the northeastern border of the park.
Glacier Point (7,214 ft) providing an eagle's view of the valley floor 3,214 feet below from this perch on the rim of Yosemite Valley.

In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Yosemite is home to a great and diverse wildlife population. Some formerly endangered or eradicated species like the peregrine falcon, golden eagle and bighorn sheep are once again flourishing under the watchful eye of the National Park Service. With a keen eye, you may be lucky enough to spot some of these beautiful creatures.

Black Bears – This incredibly intelligent animal is called “black bear” but can also be brown, blonde, cinnamon, or even white. Please visit our “Bear Awareness” page [[Hyperlink “Bear Awareness”]] for more information on protecting our Bears.
Mule Deer – One of the easiest animals to find in Yosemite, these deer are also called “Black-Tailed Deer”. They can be found in places throughout the park, but generally near open meadows.
Coyotes – Nothing beats hearing the yapping of a coyote among the walls of Yosemite Valley. Coyotes are commonly mistaken for wolves in Yosemite, but ecologically speaking wolves have never existed here.
California Ground Squirrel – The most prolific summertime squirrel, their scruffy grey/white mottled fur distinguishes them from their cousins. They hibernate in the winter.
Western Grey Squirrel – The most commonly spotted squirrel in the winter. Grey Squirrels easily have the bushiest tails in Yosemite.
Mountain Lions – These magnificent creatures are rarely seen by humans because they are very secretive. They offer an important role in controlling deer, raccoon, and squirrel populations.
Marmots – With a talent for sunbathing, these large golden brown members of the rodent family are spotted usually from Olmstead Point to Tuolumne Meadows and up to the top of the highest mountain peaks in Yosemite.

Visiting in the Summer-
(June through September)
See lots of the park...and other visitors

Areas to visit: All areas of the park are usually accessible by car by late May or early June, although services along the Tioga Road often open a bit later in June

Climate: Warm to hot, with occasional rain (usually as afternoon thundershowers, especially at the higher elevations).
Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 87°F (31°C) / 51°F (10°C)

Rivers & Waterfalls: Most of the water flowing in Yosemite comes from snowmelt in the high country, so runoff decreases during the dry summer. Peak runoff typically occurs in May or June, with some waterfalls (including Yosemite Falls) often only a trickle or completely dry by August. Other waterfalls, including Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil, run all year, however their flow can be very low by late summer.

San Francisco/Bay area
Distance: 195 mi / 314 km
Time:4-5 hours
Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.

La Brea Tar Pits... Los Angeles, California

The La Brea Tar Pits and Hancock Park are situated within urban Los Angeles, California, near the Miracle Mile district. La Brea Tar Pits are composed of a substance called Asphalt, which came out of the earth as oil. In Hancock Park, asphalt seeps up from underground. The asphalt is derived from petroleum deposits that originate from underground locations throughout the Los Angeles Basin. The asphalt reaches the surface at several locations in the park, forming pools. Methane gas also seeps up, causing bubbles that make the asphalt appear to boil. Asphalt and methane also appear under surrounding buildings, requiring special operations to remove, lest it weaken the buildings' foundations. It was recently discovered that the bubbles are caused by hardy forms of bacteria embedded in the natural asphalt that are eating away at the petroleum and releasing methane; of the bacteria sampled so far, about 200 to 300 are previously unknown species. Gas bubble slowly emerging from a smaller tar pit at La Brea Tar Pits.
This seepage has been happening for tens of thousands of years. From time to time, the asphalt would form a pool deep enough to trap animals, and the surface would be covered with layers of water, dust, and leaves. Animals would wander in, become trapped and eventually die. Predators would also enter to eat the trapped animals, and themselves become stuck.
As the bones of the dead animals sink into the asphalt, it fossilizes them, turning them a dark-brown or black color. Lighter fractions of petroleum evaporate from the asphalt, leaving a more solid substance, which holds the bones. Apart from the dramatic fossils of large mammals, the asphalt also preserves very small "microfossils," wood and plant remnants, and even pollen grains. Radiometric dating of preserved wood and bones has given an age of 38,000 years for the oldest known material from the La Brea seeps, and they are still ensnaring organisms today.

5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Horseshoe Bend... Arizona

Horseshoe Bend is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona, in the United States. It is located slightly downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about four miles or 6 km south of Page. Accessible via a 3⁄4-mile (1.2 km) hike from U.S. Route 89, it can be viewed from the steep cliff above, forming a spectacular vista.
This is a side trip that doesn't cost anything but a little effort while you're at Lake Powell in Northern Arizona. It's a 3/4 mile hike from the parking area, which is just off highway 89 south of Page.
Horse Shoe Bend is another of Mother Nature's little tricks in a whole world of sandstone and slick rock tricks that result in some of the weirdest, and neatest, formations in the west. This is Glen Canyon and the Colorado River downstream from Glen canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell. It is within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. And it's worth taking a camera.
Drive about 4 miles south of Page on 89 to a short blacktop road that goes off to the west. It's 2 tenths of a mile south of mile marker 545. If you're a GPS nut, the turn-off is: N 36-52-38.2, W 111-30-03.9. The view point is: N 36-52-34.1, W 111-30-38.25. Once you get to the coordinates for the viewpoint, we strongly advise you not to go any farther west...there's a 500 foot drop. The trail only goes to the top of the canyon, there is no way down to the river that we know of...unless you have a parachute and a death wish.
The trail has some steep ups and downs and some deep sand. Even those in the worst of shape, though, can make it if you take your time. For Pete's sake, watch the little kids at the edge.
Take the widest lens you have to shoot pictures. The above pic was taken with a fisheye lens. The best time of day, when the sun is on the complete curve of the river, is between about noon and 2 PM.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Giant Raven... Ravenden, Arkansas

Ravenden is a small town -- only about 500 residents -- spread along the Spring River. They are a proud and stalwart people -- proud of the town's mascot, the raven, and stalwart when it comes to maintaining their 12-ft. tall Raven statue.
Ravens, though they don't speak in quite the way imagined by Edgar Allan Poe, are the smartest members of the crow family. The town was established in 1883, and we've been told the name, originally Ravenden Junction, was inspired by the 19th century profusion of these large black birds along the Spring River. They weren't in evidence the day we dropped by.
The first statue honoring the raven was conceived by resident Bob Clemens, built by the town's volunteer fire department in 1991, and paid for with local donations. It was constructed of fiberglass, a widely used material for civic symbols (when the permanence of concrete or steel isn't in the budget). But as several municipalities have found, fiberglass statues harbor a fatal weakness. They burn.
Vandals torched Ravenden's statue in 1996. Clemens replaced it with a reconstituted fiberglass Raven. Two weeks later, Raven #2 was incinerated by vandals.
Most towns would give up at this point, and all you'd see on your next vacation would be a pair of charred claw stumps.
Ravenden screamed "Nevermore!" and built another -- of a more indestructible mix of cement stucco, coated with flame-retardant paint. The latest version of the Raven was installed in 1996. It's still there today, flanked by Arkansas and American flags.
The base of the statue offers this wisdom:

"The RAVEN was the first bird sent from the ark in search of land," and "The RAVEN has the reputation for DIVINE or MAGICAL powers."

Hwy. 63, Ravenden, AR

Graceland Too... Holly Springs, Mississippi

Graceland Too is the real deal. We had misgivings about visiting, given that Elvis has become so safe and antiseptic -- part of the I Love Lucy, James Dean, Rt. 66, Marilyn Monroe pabulum cool -- assembly line reproduction salt and pepper shakers can be found in the kitchenettes of assisted living apartments across the country.
Any image commemorated on US postage stamps has no danger left: icons as provocative as native birds or Rio Grande blankets.
But try telling that to Paul McLeod. He is the curator and creator of Graceland Too. It's a manic floor-to-ceiling (including the ceiling) tribute to The King, all hand done, with none of the burrs sanded off. Paul drinks lots of Coca-Cola and only sleeps four hours a night. The museum is open 24 hours a day -- he says to just knock louder at night.
It is noon when we knock. McLeod greets us and ushers us into the foyer. He's a big, pleasant person with a slight glisten of sweat. The windows are covered, and the air-conditioning and fan are no match for Mississippi July.
He reminds us of other true protectors like John Whitman of The Titanic Museum (now closed) and Max Nordeen of the Wheels Museum (also now closed). Like Whitman, McLeod remembers exactly when the bomb in his head went off.
"October 17th, 1954. On my birthday. I saw Elvis playing here with Lash LaRue. He got two dollars a day, and another fifty cents at night. A woman in the audience died at that show." After that, he saw Elvis perform another 119 times.
The obsession has lasted 50 years and two generations: Paul's son, Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod, helps manage the collection. It long ago cost Paul his job at Cadillac Motor Division and "four paid-for homes, 35 beautiful mint condition cars. My wife said to choose, I said 'So long.' "

200 East Gholson Avenue, Holly Springs, MS
Near town center, a few blocks east of Hwy 7, one block south of E. Vandom Ave. Gholson Ave. and Randolph St.
Always, just knock.

The FloraBama... The Last Roadhouse

The Flora-Bama was originally constructed in 1964, two years after the road connecting Orange Beach, AL with Perdido Key, FL was completed.[1] In the early days of the Flora-Bama, the lounge was practically the only thing in the area. As traffic began to increase along the new highway, business grew and the lounge grew to match it with new construction added piecemeal to accommodate the larger crowds. In 1978, the Flora-Bama was sold to Joe Gilchrist and Pat McClellan, who remain the co-owners of the bar today.
Widely known as a place where "you can have a millionaire sitting next to a biker," this unique make-up of bar patrons is one of the contributing factors to its large appeal and attraction. Locals mingle with tourists rather easily and on large holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, cars line the highway for miles in both directions as the bar draws such a large crowd. The Flora-Bama first gained national attention when former Oakland Raiders quarterback and NFL MVP Kenny Stabler referred to the Flora-Bama as "the best watering hole in the country."
The establishment is referred to by locals as simply "the Bama" or "Pumptown" and before its partial destruction by Hurricane Ivan, it boasted in the range of 20 bars on the grounds. In addition, up to 4 live bands could be playing simultaneously providing a wide array of music for visitors to enjoy. The bar is primarily outdoors and formerly offered a huge deck where one can eat and drink while having a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico before its destruction by Hurricane Ivan.

17401 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola, FL 32507

Friday, January 16, 2009

Presidents Parks aplenty...Leads SD, Williamsburg VA, Pearland TX

Lead, South Dakota
"Move over Mt. Rushmore! You've got company!" So proclaims the brochure for Presidents Park -- a wooded retreat in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where citizens can stroll peacefully among the giant heads of the nation's Chief Executives.
It doesn't take genius to discern that tourist traffic already in the region to see four heads carved into a mountain (or five, lest we forget the almost completed Chief Crazy Horse) might be lured to also visit big busts of ALL the Presidents.
Presidents Park is open year round; the asphalt in the parking lot was one month old when we stopped by in 2003. That year, David Adickes, the sculptor who rendered the gargantuan Sam Houston and Houston airport's George HW Bush statue ("Winds of Change"), opened Presidents Park (and a duplicate near Williamsburg, Virginia in 2004).
The 43 heads are arranged chronologically along a path winding up into a rocky knoll of tall pines. George Washington, generally accepted in history as the first President of the USA, looks over the snack bar.
The busts are16-20 feet tall, with the seven greatest Presidents' heads rendered at about 12 times life-size. Each head is accompanied by an informational display.
Andrew Jackson.
The climb up the head path is gradual, but a little strenuous for seniors. Knowing their likely audience, the park provides motorized golf carts, and warming enclosures and rest areas along the way.
Wild turkeys roam the slope. The tree shade makes for challenging photos, but the dappling adds character. You can capture a Nixon and Ford lurking side by side in the shadows, or G. W. Bush gazing toward a slightly smirking Clinton. Beyond those two there's room for another century worth of larger-than-life likenesses...
The Park has interspersed a couple of joke items along the way. A path twist at McKinley features a sign: "Turn of the Century." Visitors can sit on "Monica Rock." There is a Watergate picnic area behind Nixon’s head. The restrooms are labeled "Presidents" and "First Ladies."
Harry S. Truman.
Adickes created the heads at his studio in Houston, Texas. He blocks out the basic shape with large strips of Styrofoam, then plasters over for the fine detail before the mold is cast. Apparently an infinite number of giant president heads can be manufactured from the molds.
The heads are hollow (like we suspected of our politicians), but still weigh 16-24 tons.
When we visited, the gift shop was still working out kinks. Souvenir plastic daggers may not be the right idea, but the wholesalers brought 'em in anyway.
Presidents Park isn't bad, but something is missing. Should the heads perpetually slide on rails, and give historic speeches? Too gimmicky? Maybe they're just too new. When Polk gets moldy streaks running from his eyes, and birds start nesting, it might add to the entertainment value.
Nixon and Ford.
Adickes is expanding the giant head landscape as a commercial endeavor. In addition to his second park in Virginia, other big statues are on the drawing board. At the Presidents Park web site, he's promoting the Icon Project, which "Will take your dream and turn it into a permanent creation of art that will be a wonderful tribute to your mentor, idol or relative."

5 mi. SW of Deadwood/Lead one mile south of Deer Mountain Road on US85

Only in Virginia’s historic triangle and Presidents Park can you receive the entire span of our nation’s history from the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 to the present. Presidents Park offers a continuation of the all-encompassing lesson in American History, starting with Washington’s inauguration in 1789, through, to the new millennium and the current war on terrorism. Learn about all 43 unique presidencies as you enjoy a patriotic, educational and inspiring experience at Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Presidents Park is the creation of David Adickes, an internationally renowned sculptor and painter. The Park features 16-18 foot tall busts of all 43 Presidents of the United States, placed in a garden setting. Presidents Park has established a Board of Education which reviews educational material to ensure that the Virginia Standards of Learning are met. All content is also reviewed by the President Park’s National Council of Scholars. The museum building on site houses meeting rooms, a gift shop, cafĂ©, banquet room, and other amenities.

211 Water Country Parkway, Williamsburg, VA 23285 • Toll-Free 800-588-4327

The plan is for 43 president's statues fronting the new commercial development, Waterlight, on Hwy 288 in Pearland, south of Houston, Texas. Created by David Adickes, sculptor of the 76' Sam Houston statue in Huntsville, Texas.The current 5 are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush, and John Kennedy. Presidential Park -
Pearland, Texas. Nov. 2008.

Mermaids...of Weeki Wachee, Florida

The name "Weeki Wachee" conjures up as powerful an image as "Big Sur" or "Harlem." Visions of lovely mermaids performing graceful underwater ballet and sucking RC Cola bottles spring to the feverish forebrain. Doomed dads have been steering their wood-paneled station wagons towards these mesmerizing maidens since 1947.
In 1946, Newton Perry, former US Navy frogman, conceived the idea of staying under water and breathing through an air hose supplied by an air compressor. During experiments at Weeki Wachee, he perfected "hose breathing." The theater was completed in 1947. Divers still have not located the bottom of the spring.
The enduring success of Weeki Wachee is built on a rigid mermaid code. "There's a lot more to being a mermaid than just knowing how to smile and wiggle your tail underwater, " says Jana, who has been a mermaid for fifteen years.
The Rites of Mermaidhood are grueling, but necessary. "Our lives depend on each other; it's not your normal job." Half the trainees who make it through the formal interview and water auditions never achieve the rank of full mermaid; the year of on-the-job training and the final exam -- holding your breath for two and a half minutes while changing out of costume in the mouth of the 72 degree spring -- finishes many mermaid wannabes.
This exclusive sorority includes nineteen active performers. Mermaids who make it through tend to stay on the job for a number of years, then often move up to management positions. "It's not the kind of job you hold for six months and then quit," notes Jana.
Hollywood recycles old TV shows into movies and Weeki Wachee recycles Disney films into its mermaid shows. "The Little Mermaid" had a successful run, and has returned. Our favorite was "Pocahontas Meets The Little Mermaid," a hybrid that ran from 1995-97 and managed to be almost politically correct while still showcasing girls in mermaid suits.
After every show, families line up to pose with a Mermaid, before heading off to Weeki Wachee's low-key Birds of Prey show, petting zoo, and jungle cruise. Our photo op mermaid waits for the crowd to move out of sight before slipping back into the spring . . .
Yup, the Mermaid life ain't bad. They have only two natural enemies: thunderstorms, and the alligators that occasionally slip into the spring. Amorous dad 'n' grads are kept safely behind thick glass.

6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, FL

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Death Valley, California...Moving Rocks

It was a challenge to get information on the moving rocks at Death Valley. The reason that they move
along the 10,000 year old dried up clay lake bed is still somewhat of a mystery. Several teams of scientists have taken their shot at explaining the movement, but the actual migration of the rocks has never been witnessed by anyone as far as we know.

Getting to the moving rocks is an adventure in itself. We went to the ranger's station to get information on the trip out there past the crater. An assistant to the rangers argued why we should not go out there - from voiding the car rental agreement to the possibility of rain and mud. We believe that he may not want people to go out there because some people steal or move the rocks and he does not want any more damage to the site.

We figured that we had already voided any rental agreement when we drove to Death Valley via a gravel road with huge pits and drop-offs, so what could be worse. We drove out along the 20 mile dirt road, and in an hour we were at the moving rocks.
Death Valley National Park: A Land of Extremes

Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and three million acres of stone wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest deserts. A place of legend and a place of trial.

Carhenge... Alliance, Nebraska

A family reunion in 1987 produced what has become America's best-known quirky Stonehenge -- "Carhenge," built in a dusty field outside of Alliance, Nebraska, under the supervision of farmer Jim Reinders, who meant it as a memorial to his dad. What made Carhenge unique was that it was made of, well, cars -- 38 of them, rescued from nearby farms and dumps. The Reinders family spray-painted the cars a flat gray to make the monument more accurate. Two foreign vehicles were originally part of Carhenge, but they were subsequently dragged away and buried, replaced by models from Detroit. The "heel stone" is a 1962 Caddy.
The residents of Alliance at first wanted to tear down Carhenge. The Nebraska Department of Highways wanted to label it a "junkyard" and erect a big fence around it. But the animosity has long since passed, and signs on the outskirts of town now proudly identify Alliance as the "Home of Carhenge." Postcards are readily available and a visitors’ center is being built at the site.

Hwy 87, two miles north of town

The Parthenon... Nashville, Tennessee

The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon also serves as the city of Nashville's art museum. The focus of the Parthenon's permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon is open year round Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 - 4:30. Additional hours during June, July & August: Sundays, 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. The Parthenon will be closed on July 4, Labor Day, the Thursday & Friday of Thanksgiving week, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admission: Members free; Adults - $5.00; Children 4-17 - $2.50 (under 4 free); Seniors 62+ - $2.50
In a nod to its appreciation of classical Greek architecture, Nashville, Tennessee erected a full-sized Parthenon in the 1920s to replace the version built out of temporary materials for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Renovations in the 1990s restored this magnificent copy of the admittedly droopy and worn-down original in Athens. Inside, you can worship the goddess Athena -- a guilded sculpture that's 42 feet tall.

The Parthenon is an exact replica of the original one in Athens, Greece. It was originally built as a temporary building for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition (hence its location in Centennial Park) in 1896. Since Nashville was called "The Athens of the South" at that time, the citizens decided to keep the Parthenon as a remembrance of the exposition. By the 1930's the temporary building had deteriorated so much that it was replaced by a permanent one that now functions as an art museum.

Athena is 42 feet tall, the "Largest Indoor Sculpture in the Western World." Unveiled inside Nashville's replica Parthenon in 1990, she is so big she holds another statue in her right hand. She was gilded in 2002 entirely in 23.75 carat Italian gold leaf.

2600 W End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 862-8431

The White House... Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta has a 3/4 sized replica of the White House and it’s located at 3687 Briarcliff Road NE. The Atlanta White House was built by Atlanta home builder Fred Milani, an American citizen born in Iran.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Eiffel Tower of Paris... Texas

In a state of towering oil derricks and spidery drill platforms, passersby do a doubletake when they drive by the civic center in the Texas town of Paris. It's not just that dark metal replica Eiffel Tower -- it's the fact that it is adorned with a giant cowboy hat.

But then, if you were Paris, Texas, what would you have done?

There are fifteen American municipalities named "Paris," and more than a few have chosen to erect Eiffel Tower replicas to pay homage to their French namesake.

Both Paris of Texas and Paris of Tennessee commemorated their Eiffel Tower Replicas in 1993. TN's was constructed earlier at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, before being donated and permanently installed in Memorial Park in Paris, TN.

But at 60-ft. tall, the TN tower was edged out of faux-foreign architecture dominance by a mere five feet. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX was 65-ft. tall, built by the local iron worker's union. Tennesseans battled back by replacing theirs with one 70-ft. tall....

Texas town boosters knew they were on shaky ground for an enduring and unique civic claim (and reminders that they were the "Second Largest Paris in the World" and the inspiration for the title of the 1984 movie "Paris, Texas" were feeble at best). So in 1998 they added a large red cowboy hat to the tip of the tower, tilted to push a few extra feet into the lower atmosphere.

Many decried this as the dumbest idea ever, but to us it seemed in the spirit of other local attractions: a grave monument with Jesus in cowboy boots, and a junior college whose entrance is decorated with a statue of their cartoon dragon mascot.

Turns out the Cowboy Hat idea came just in time. The following year in 1999, Las Vegas almost humiliated all the little Paris's when they erected a 540-ft. tall Eiffel Tower Replica along the Strip. At half the height of the original (which is 984 ft. tall), this replica is nearly ten times taller than the other replicas.

But no hat.

East edge of town on US 82, corner of Jefferson Rd. and South Collegiate Drive, next to the Love Civic Center.
Daylight hours (Call to verify)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Niles... Illinois

The Leaning Tower is a perennial stop for Roadsiders in the Chicago area, and only 15 minutes northeast of O'Hare Intl. Airport (and 10 minutes from the World's First Franchised McDonald's in Des Plaines). The Leaning Tower of Niles is, of course, a replica of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is roughly half-sized -- 94 feet, vs. the authentic's 177 feet, and leans about 7'4" off plum (vs. Pisa's 15 foot tilt). But that hardly matters when you're standing across the street taking a picture. And the savings in overseas airfare and reduced risk of injury is worth considering.
America's Leaning Tower was built in 1934 (600 years after the original), and for many years has stood in front of the Tower YMCA. It was a utility tower, made from steel, concrete and precast stone, designed to store water. A plaque at its base says it was built to honor the outstanding scientist Galileo Galilei.
The plaza around the tower was renovated in the late 1990s, adding a fountain and other touches.

6300 Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL


The purpose of this blog is to document a list of locations around the US that I'd like to checkout in the future. Photos, locations, addresses, phone numbers, GPS coordinates, etc... and any other information that I can come up with that would be need to find the spot. This is the on going project that extends my book "Between Both Shores".
At some point in the future I'm sure I'll take another road trip across the US and hopefully this blog will come in handy when trying to figure out where I want to go and what I want to see.