TREES

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mount is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

–Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

 We have, over the past two or three years, had the privilege of visiting many of our National Parks and some other worthy sites in our vast and beautiful country. I’m not a loco-tree-hugger, but I have become a huge fan and I appreciate the necessity of keeping as many as proves to be healthy for them.

 This is my holiday blog. It is not about Christmas trees, as beautiful as they are, but a note to honor the creator of these magnificent living partners in His world.

 I begin with my most recent trip to visit Pearl Fryar. Topiary Artist. In Bishopville, SC Mr. Fryar has spent his life creating this garden from a corn field. It was featured once on CBS Sunday Morning and I was spellbound. I never dreamed I would see it, let alone meet the sculptor. He is ageing, but still the strongest and most agile person I have met older than me. He has started to hire help and has started a foundation to carry on his work. www.gardenconservancy.org

 

ODD TREES:  A few odd ones we move to next:  a work of art called a singing tree, a tree with wonderfully shaped root system, a frozen tree archway and a shoe tree we saw in Montana.  I have no idea what the purpose of the shoes in the tree were.  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of a tree with such unusual fruit.

 

 

SEQUOIA:  These majestic giants are native to our west coast.  A few have been moved to other continents during the Victorian era, before the environmental protection laws were written.  These laws are meant to save other trees from un-native insect pests.  A good Idea.  Sweet Husband is standing in front of one exported to Scotland over a hundred years ago.  It is still quite young.  These trees live to over 2,000 years making them the oldest organism on our planet.  Pictures cannot capture their grandeur.

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Banyan Tree:  These trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the main trunk with age. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species, the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan Vines.

This photo was taken at Edison’s summer home in Florida.  It covers an acre of ground.

When near the Edison & Ford Winter Estates' west entrance, see t

REDWOOD:  Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.  I can only express my reaction in tears of gratitude to my wonderful creator.

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires

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Monterey Cedar: These are medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree, which often becomes irregular and flat-topped as a result of the strong winds that are typical of its native area along the pacific coast of California. It grows to heights of up to 40 meters (133 feet) in perfect growing conditions, and its trunk diameter can reach 2.5 meters (over 8 feet). The foliage grows in dense sprays which are bright green in color and release a deep lemony aroma when crushed.  I fell in love with their wind-shaped beauty

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Live Oaks:  As a resident of the deep south, all of my life, these magnificent trees never fail to make my heart stop each time I see one.  They do not become lovely until they are at least 100 years old.  The trees below are 300 to 500 years old.  They lose their leaves in the spring when the new leaves push out last years leaves.  Therefore they are evergreen and probably why they gained the name LIVE.

Lodgepole pine cone, Pinus contorta, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is the cone of the Lodge Pole Pine.  The seeds are naturally glued in and can only be dislodged by fire.  The forest are dense and as far as the eye can see in most areas of Montana and Wyoming.

Flora and Fauna (& topography): West of the Pacos

Blue Bonnet

On December 1st we left Baton Rouge for points west. We spent two nights in Houston, a week in TX hill country, two nights in Big Bend National Park, then drove up to NM to see Carlsbad Caverns and Santa Fe. We then headed to AZ, NV and finally CA. On January 19th we arrived back in Baton Rouge for a much needed rest from the road of several days.

Below are pictures of the topography, flora and fauna we encountered. Much of this I have never seen. I am very taken with our beautiful western states, especially Big Sur and north in California.

TEXAS

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mud bird nest in the cliff near the Rio Grande

Mr. Spider:  As big as my hand

Mr. Spider: As big as my hand

Blooming desert

Blooming desert

Purple Cactus.  Who knew?

Purple Cactus. Who knew?

Road Runner.  Meep-Meep

Road Runner. Meep-Meep

The kind of cactus one sees in old movie

The kind of cactus one sees in old movies

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

Texas Long Horn Cattle, Spectacular and LARGE

TX Hill Country

TX Hill Country

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Tiny Hill Country Deer, found in abundance

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Live Oak Trees do not get very large in TX

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Grieving Angel in Glenwood Garden, Houston

Landscaping, TX Style

Landscaping, TX Style

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Wild Horses on Rio Grande

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus growing from the rocks

Cactus and Sage Grass.  This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Cactus and Sage Grass (& more). This looks and feels like an aquarium scape

Big Bend Beauty

Big Bend Beauty

Life will find a way

Life will find a way

NEW MEXICO

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

View from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad, too

Carlsbad

Carlsbad

ARIZONA

Painted Desert National Park

Painted Desert National Park

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Where the deer and the antelope play...

Where the deer and the antelope play…

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Petrified Wood in the Painted Desert National Park

Raven:  Never More

Raven: Never More

Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed

Blooming Cactus

Blooming Cactus

Petrified Wood

Petrified Wood

NEVADA

Who knew the NV desert has mountains?  We didn't expect it at all.

Who knew the NV desert has mountains? We didn’t expect it at all.

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Las Vegas Topography (smile)

Blooming Ceiling:  Glass flowers at Bellagio

Blooming Ceiling: Glass flowers at Bellagio

Christmas Flowers

Christmas Flowers

Las Vegas has the rare, endangered golden Lion

Las Vegas is home of the rare, endangered, golden Lion

Hoover Lake.  It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

Hoover Lake. It looks like the shoreline is painted, This is mineral deposits from the lowering water levels.

CALIFORNIA

Panda:  San Diego ZOO

Panda: San Diego ZOO

Koala:  San Diego ZOO

Koala: San Diego ZOO

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

JP Getty Museum and Gardens

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Succulent Tree (I do not know the name, they were all over California)

Monterey Cedar

Monterey Cedar

Agave

Agave

Sea Elephant

Sea Elephant

RAVEN:  This guy is following us from state to state

RAVEN: This guy is following us from state to state

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Mexican Fan Palm at Hearst Castle

Labra Tar Pits

Labra Tar Pits

Caladium:  Rose Parade Float

Caladium: Rose Parade Float

Life everywhere in California

Life everywhere in California

Big Sur in bloom in January

Big Sur in bloom in January

Whales at Big Sur

Whales at Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

McWay Falls, Big Sur

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Eucalyptus groves (the fragrance was wonderful)

Seals and cubs

Seals and cubs

Red liken

Red liken

Elk:  Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

Elk: Reintroduced to the CA National Seashore

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

California, home of fruits and nuts (smile)

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

Giant Redwood

El Capitan at Yosemite

El Capitan at Yosemite

Sequoia the Magnificent

Sequoia the Magnificent

Count The Cost

    Things I have learned

  • People everywhere are warm and wonderful.
  • California is fabulous.  My opinion has changed, If I could afford it, I would live there…this what I used to believe (home of the fruits and nuts – I couldn’t resist taking this picture of the truck farmer north of San Francisco), But now, it is the most magical and wonderful of all.

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  • Seasonal clothing should be packed in separate boxes, so you can pull out only what you will need the next day…unless you are staying several days, then you bring in two full suitcases.  We have encountered very hot to very cold since May, 2014.
  • Shoes should have their own box.  (these first two bullet points all go in the very back of the van with the cooler – easily accessible)
  • In the single suitcase pack the daily essentials: under garments, makeup & shave kit, meds, jewelry, PJs, socks and clothing for the next day.
  • One LARGE purse is needed for quick access to items that are needed during the day.  SUCH AS:  WALLET/CELL PHONE CASE [can be purchased at Walmart for $5.00], COUGH DROPS, CAMERA, CHARGER CORDS, EMORY BOARD, PENS, SMALL NOTE BOOK, CHAPSTICK, SALINE SPRAY, TYLENOL, BANDAIDS, ETC.  My wallet/cell phone case can be pulled out with my camera when needed, leaving the balance in the car…because darn, it is heavy!

purse

  • It is not necessary to have a perfect hairdo if you are going to be in the car all day touring about.  Nice hair is for a few events…a very few – like nice dinner out or church.
  • This does not have to be expensive.  Thanks to friends and family and Groupon/LivingSocial we have stayed really inexpensively.  Plus we have slept in the car when necessary (at a camp ground) – really very comfortable with an air mattress.
  • One not so sweet friend of sweet husband commented, “I sure hope the money holds out.”  Frankly, we are doing this on a very small monthly income.  If it were not for genuine friends and family (you know who you are) a lot of this would not have happened.  We do not over stay our welcome.  We communicate with these friends/family via email and phone and they actually ask when we will be near enough to visit.
  • A computer is necessary.
  • Someone to help with mail is necessary.
  • A (mostly) national pharmacy is necessary.  We have been using Walgreens.  Fortunately, we don’t take a lot of prescriptions.
  • A (mostly) national bank.
  • Good credit and some cash.
  • Patience with your companion and with yourself.
  • A good laundry bag with a ziplock package of laundry pods (I use TIDE)
  • A portable WiFi so you can search for a lodging groupon when you know where you will be stopping for the night. (we use Verizon’s MiFI – just bear in mind, if there is no cell coverage, there is no internet)
  • Most bills can be received and paid online, however, a small supply of checks, envelopes and stamps are needed.
  • An up-to-date, national road atlas/book.
  • An up-to-date passport.
  • I am now, officially a TREE HUGGER after experiencing the great Redwood, Pacific Cedar, Eucalyptus and the Sequoia.

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Drivng Up Highway 1 In California: Part 1b

San Simeon, CA the Castle built by William Randolph Hearst, a man addicted to creating.

We recently toured the William Randolph Hearst Castle.  What struck me almost immediately about this beautiful place was his love of doing it.  He was a world-class antique collector (today we might call him a hoarder).  He was a serial builder.  He built publishing businesses, one of the most productive film studios of the time and homes.  He had between 30-40 homes all over the world.  He loved the creative act of building.  He was daily, actively involved in the act of creating.  He inherited a fortune, but created his own over and above that.

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Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27 NASB)

To be creative is part of who we are because we are created in the image of the original creator.  We are a unique and personal creation.  I have found and many researchers concur that there is a deep and abiding satisfaction in the act of creating.  There is great satisfaction in the doing of a project, not just the accomplishment of the project.  Some find it in their professional life, or in the act of building a business or raising children and making a home.  It is different from recreation, community service or social activities, but it can become a part of these activities.  Some sing, write and play music, some are artists and crafters, some cook and bake, some garden, some decorate, some sew or knit, there are woodworkers/builders, some write….some enjoy the doing of several of these.  Just for the pure joy and (sometime) frustration of the act.

It is okay to be afraid, in fact it is required.  No one has ever created anything worthwhile they didn’t fear would not work.  Once we understand and accept it, we can only then finally live with our fears and create our best work. I’ve heard it said, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”  I am discovering many people who really live this way.

I have a cousin (June McClary) who has turned, “Lunch With Friends” into an event.  She and they make the most wonderful hats and dress accordingly for these festivals on a regular basis.

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Another cousin (Frances Peterson) who gardens, cans, bakes and cooks; then lays down at night to have the energy to get up and do it all over again.

Fran

Both my brothers, a couple of my male cousins and my nephew all are musical.  They write music, sing and build instruments.  They play music even when no one is watching/listening.  Sometimes they would rather do that than eat.

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My brother-in-law purchased the Theater Organ from The Saenger Theater in Baton Rouge.  He then took it apart and reassembled it in his den – REALLY!  He built an extra room for the pipe chamber.  It is an amazing sight and sound.  He also rebuilds player pianos…these are ongoing projects of love.  If you are ever in the Jackson, MS area, let me know and I will assist you in a grand tour. (No picture available at press time)

I have a friend (Karen Clark) who paints…beautiful still life and landscapes and portraits.

Karen

I have another friend (Toby Morgan) who absolutely loves working with wood and building furniture.  You can see the joy in his face when he talks about a project. (No picture available at press time)

Lastly, I have a life-long friend (David Gray) who finds, rebuilds/restores, and resells pinball machines. He has enlisted his son in this fun activity.

David david2

I write.  I write because I love it. Even if no one but me, myself and I reads it or enjoys it.  I also love to garden and do crafts with my Grand-Wonders (or alone).  I have another life-long friend (Trish Holland) who turned the love of writing into a profession.  She writes children’s books.

Trish Holland

These people above are all part of the Baby Boomer generation, so they (we) have taken “hobbies” to a whole new level.  Follow our lead; find what you love and what makes your heart smile and fear, then do it.

This is an interactive blog post, please add, in the comments, what you do that makes your heart smile and add pictures.

Fatigue. . .

We have been on the road in our minivan since May.  I have pretty much covered our driving through New Mexico…then we got busy(er) and busy(er), it seems.   We have been overwhelmed by the beauty and enormity of what we have seen and done daily.  We literally fall asleep by 8:30 each night and sleep until 7:00 the next morning (unless there was a football game that Sweet Husband needed to see-I can actually through them).

Sweet Husband and I are over 60.  I know, I know. . . I’m shocked, too!  We are like toddlers we get really tired and grumpy w/o a nap.  We do not get naps, there is no time, which is why I haven’t posted on the following as yet.

Here is a list of the amazing places I will still report on (I promise):

  1. Sedona, AZ (3 nights)
  2. Las Vegas, NV (2 nights)
  3. Ronald Regan Library (one night & one FULL day)
  4. John Paul Getty Museum (1/2 day…not enough)
  5. San Diego, CA (5 nights)
  6. The Tournament Of Roses Parade (Pasadena, CA—4 nights)
  7. Continue up Hwy 1 to Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, San Francisco, Muir Forest, the Avenue of the Giants and Yosemite (weather permitting)  [Many nights]
  8. Then we head back to our neck of the woods (I’m assuming)
  9. Big Sur (to me) is the closest thing to heaven here on earth!  REALLY

Pictures below, to tease you, from each location. . .

Ragged Point (South end of Big Sur)

Ragged Point (South end of Big Sur)

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

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La Bra Tar Pit

La Bra Tar Pit

Van Gogh @ Getty

Van Gogh @ Getty

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Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Pacific

Pacific

Getty Museum

Getty Museum

Princess Float

Princess Float

Coronado Hotel

Coronado Hotel

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Regan's Oval Office

Regan’s Oval Office

What happens in Vegas . . .

What happens in Vegas . . .

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Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Painted Desert, AZ

Painted Desert, AZ