Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sculpture Garden

When I travel, I usually know where I want to go and what I want to see. However, when I geocache, it's the sport that takes me to places that I wouldn't necessarily even know existed. This is one of the reasons geocaching appeals to me so much. I've seen things that I never would have known were there without this silly game. It takes me to places right there, a place that I would have driven right by, were it not for that silly plastic container that's hidden right over there.

And that's where the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden comes in. I passed this garden on my way to Klamath Falls, Oregon late last month. There were two geocaches there and I put them on the back burner, figuring I'd check them out on the way back down after the funeral I was attending. When I came back down two days laters, I stopped and explored the gardens. The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden was created by Vietnam veteran and sculpture artist, Dennis Smith and was dedicated as a war memorial, but the metal sculptures seem to evoke a powerful sense of peace. The garden is located along Hwy 97 northeast of Weed, California.

I parked the car in the large dirt lot and started walking, as I was a good half mile away from either geocache that I wanted to find. I kept passing different sculptures and each one had their own unique perspective on what war was like and how people deal with war and all the other shit that goes along with war.

There was a sculpture from the POW/MIA's perspective, as well as the KIA perspective. Not so much the person killed but more of what and who were left behind. Have you thought about what nurses and surgeons go through as they attempt to stitch up all of these soldiers that get maimed during a war? There's a sculpture for that as well.

I think one of the things that was so compelling about these sculptures were the additions that were obviously added after the fact by visitors, many who were probably veterans themselves. Somehow, this particular garden reached out to them and spoke to them individually. You can see some of these tokens in the second photo of the POW/MIA.

Having never been to Washington, D.C. to see any of the war memorials there, I can't speak to those, but I have seen the traveling Vietnam Wall twice in the past 15 years. Each time it has been an incredibly moving experience. Both times I've seen the wall, I've looked up a brother of a friend of mine who I know is on the wall. I've done an etching of his name both times and taken a photo of his name. I'm too young to have served, just barely, and I'm very thankful I didn't have to go over there. I know war changes people and not always for the good.

I can't do justice in words to this garden. Here's a link to the rest of the photos I took when I logged my find at one of the geocaches I found. 

Friday, January 31, 2020


It's time, once again, for P.J.'s monthly photo blogging challenge. This month, the theme was "New" and I struggled mightily with it, so some of these might seem farfetched, but here I go. As most of you know, I retired in the middle of the year last year and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. It has given me time to explore, see new things, and do new things. That's what this is all about. Much of what I write about in this post will be geocaching related in someway, so if you're not interested, I understand perfectly.

1. New Virtual Caches
A long time ago, geocaching used to have a cache type called the virtual. In other words, you had to visit a spot, either answer some questions or post a photo to prove that you were there. Many of the virtuals took me to places that were absolutely wonderful, but couldn't have a physical container for a variety of reasons. Then, geocaching decided that virtuals, because they didn't have a container, didn't fit the geocaching mode, and so they were stopped. Any virtual caches in existence were grandfathered in, but no new ones could be created. The big bummer was they also wouldn't allow the old ones to be adopted by another geocacher in case the original owner got tired of it, or didn't have the wherewithal to continue to maintain it. So as the number of virtuals got archived, obviously the numbers dwindled. There's still a lot of virtuals out there, but not as many, except geocaching decided last year or possibly two years ago to bring back the virtual cache on a limited basis. People were awarded virtual cache placements based upon certain criteria and then new ones started popping up. The first photo is me at one of these new virtual caches down in Huntington Beach, California. The statue is Duke Kahanamoku and virtual cache celebrates the surfing culture of the area.

2. New Experiences
I read somewhere that everyone, regardless of age or status, should experience one new place each year. I'm way overdue, although I could probably say that I've experienced over 60 new places in my lifetime. In reality, I think one new place per year is on the small side. Just since I retired at the end of May, I've experienced 6 new places that I'd never seen before:

1. Muir Woods National Monument
2. Golden Spike National Historic Park
3. Craters of the Moon National Monument
4. Petroglyph National Monument
5. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
6. El Malpais National Monument

Some of these I've already written about here, others I will write about in future posts. 

The latest new place I recently visited is the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden located off Hwy 97 north of Weed, California. I plan on writing about this visit in detail in a coming post, but needless to say, this was a very moving experience to see these sculptures in amongst the forest. It is also my first new place I've explored this year. I actually wonder how many more new places I'll explore before the end of this calendar year?

And this is one of the reasons why I have enjoyed geocaching so much.  It has taken me to places that I might not have visited were it not for geocaching. Last week, I went on a road trip to Oregon for a funeral of the mother of a very good friend of mine. There was this geocache off to the side of the road here, but I didn't stop for it on the way up. I did, however, stop on the way back down because I had extra time. If the geocache hadn't been there, I might not have stopped at all. Because of geocaching, I've discovered new trails to hike, new parks to explore, new roads to travel and have challenged myself to try new things. All because someone was talking about this silly game in a chat room that I was in 19 years ago. Some of my best friends I've met through geocaching. I think it would take something very serious for me to give up this hobby.

3. New Ways of Looking at Things
This month, geocaching took me near where my in-laws are buried. The last time I was here, was when my wife and I were checking into the arrangements for my father-in-law's internment at the cemetery and the headstone had been removed because the cemetery had to engrave his name on the headstone. So this was the first time seeing this for me since that time. It's hard to believe he's been gone almost 3 years now.

I think most of us look at our parents as the big buffer zone between us and the great unknown. But when our buffer zone physically disappears, then we become the new buffer zone for our children and we no longer have that buffer zone for ourselves anymore. Fortunately for me, I still have that buffer zone, as both of my parents are still alive. I try to visit them at least once a month to have lunch with them and to catch them up on happenings in our household. My daughter is coming down for my birthday next month, so we'll visit my parents at that time.

On a side not, my father-in-law's father also passed away on February 6th, and my mother-in-law's brother passed away on the same day as she did. It's been said by more than one person in my wife's family, that if you survive the first week in February, you're good to go for another year.

4. New Surprises
Every now and then, when I go out geocaching, I stumble upon something that's just totally different and unexpected that I just have to document. That happened at a cache called Bison Overlook. When geocachers hear certain words, they interpret them slightly differently than the average person. A bison, to a geocachers, is a small pill container that has been converted into a geocache. They are relatively watertight, so they do a good job of keeping the logsheet dry and they are relatively inexpensive as well. You can even get them in camouflaged colors so they blend in when hung in a tree. So when we came across this cache on a walk in a park, we were expecting a bison tube with a nice overlook. Yes, we did find a bison tube at the overlook, but we also got a surprise in that there were also real bison here. Interestingly, these particular bison (or their ancestors) were once owned by Walt Disney, another surprise.

5. New Driving Experiences
I'm a Southern California guy. I was born in Indiana, but have lived here since I was 3. I don't do snow. Period. Now, all of you who live in the snow, if you could just stay there, I would greatly appreciate it since California is crowded enough without all the other people moving to it every year. 

That being said, one of the things I've been able to do now that I'm retired is travel during non-peak times of the year. I went to Denver in October and got snowed on. I went to Oregon this month. While I didn't get snowed on, it was extremely cold and the snow that had fallen just before I got there was still quite thick on the ground. It was extremely cold while I was up in Oregon and although it didn't freeze overnight, the thought was in the back of my mind. It's a different kind of driving experience that I'm not used to, based upon my upbringing.

I've actually driven in these types of conditions more in the last 6 months than in probably the last 30 years. I'm good with that. It's a new experience and one that I am getting used to. Mt. Shasta is gorgeous most times of the year, but this is the first time I've been able to experience Shasta up close in the winter months. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Well, there you have it. My "News" for the month of January. Please stop by P.J.'s site and read some of the other interpretations for the theme New. Please leave a comment here. As always, I won't bite.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Geocaching Goals for 2020

This post is all about geocaching, so if you have no interest, you can stop reading now. I won't be offended.

I realize that this is a little late, but it's better late than never. I don't like the term resolutions, mainly because if you break the resolution, you've failed. I prefer the term goals. You can set goals, but you may not reach them. That doesn't mean you fail, it just means, you're going to work on that particular aspect in the future to improve in whatever area you're working on. Resolutions are almost all or nothing, whereas goals imply partial success, even if you don't meet the entire goal. At least that's how I see it.

In this case, it's kind of silly anyway to say I have resolutions regarding geocaching, but I do have goals for this year. And so I present my goals for this year, none of which I think are that ambitious, especially since I have a lot of free time off in which to accomplish them.

1. Have fun. Why do something if you're not going to have fun? And thus all goals revolve around this one. If I'm not having fun achieving a goal, then it's time to drop or revise the goal.

2. Find at least 100 caches per month, average 125 per month. In the past, I've always wanted to average 100 cache finds per month. Now that I'm retired,  I think I can up that average. Last year, I found 1378 caches and I'm already ahead of last January's pace for the entire month and this month is only half over, so I think this goal is achievable. If I maintain my goal average for the year, then I should have over 1500 cache finds this year which would be my third best year ever.

3. Hide good quality caches. I used to want to hide 1%, that is hide a cache for every 100 that I found. With slightly over 16,000 finds, I'm right at 160 physical cache hides, so I've kept that goal intact. The only frustrating part of that is I can't find my own caches. I wish other people in my local area would hide more caches too, so I could go out and find some locally. I drove down to Corona today to find a couple of caches. That's about 20 or so miles one way. 

4. Hide more non-traditional caches. Geocaching came out with their year end statistics for 2019. Over 75% of all cache hides are traditional caches, a container hidden somewhere. This year, I'm going to concentrate on other types of hides. That doesn't mean I won't hide traditional caches, it just means I'm going to concentrate on the other kinds.

5. Continue to host 12-15 events. I host a monthly coffee event, so there's 12 right there.  Last year, I hosted 4 other events over the course of the year. I'm sure I'll hit this goal, as I've already hosted two events and have two other events already published for upcoming months. I also started a Roadtrip coffee event entitled Webfoot Wanderings (hmm, I wonder where I got that name from?). When I travel with enough advance planning, I want to host coffee events in other local areas mainly to meet the geocachers in that area. In the past, I've hosted events in Iowa and Arizona and have attended events in Iowa and Colorado. It's always fun to meet geocachers in other places. You get hints on local caches and get insights into some of the really good hides in a given area.

6. Attend as many Community Celebration Events as possible this year. Geocaching turns 20 years old in May and in celebration, they have come out with a different kind of event, the Community Celebration Event and have offered them to geocachers all over the world. These events will happen anytime between May 2nd and December 31st of this year. I was awarded one and will be hosting one of these events on the first day of summer this year. I'm planning on attending at least 1 event on May 2nd and possibly two, although that might be a little bit of a stretch to get to both of them on the same day. I realize a lot of people might end up doing this, but I think that a goal of over ten is very achievable.

7. Complete the Jasmer Challenge. This challenge is to find a geocache that was hidden in every month that geocaching has been around, so since May 2000. I'm missing two months, June and July 2000. The closest to my house are both in Oregon. I guess that means there's a road trip in the offing, probably in June to find those two caches.

8. Have fun.  Did I mention that already? Yes I did, but it's the most important goal in my opinion, so I'll bookend it with the other one above around the other goals. 

I'll revisit this list in December to see how well I did.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Truth of Nature

Now that I'm retired, I've made a pact with myself that if I see something that looks interesting that's going to happen somewhere, I'm going to explore and check it out. I don't have specific examples, but when I was working, more than once I was disappointed because there was something that looked interesting to me that I was unable to attend because I was working. I cannot even tell you when I heard about the Denver Art Museum (DAM) "Monet - The Truth of Nature" exhibit, but I knew that it looked interesting enough that I wanted to see it. 

Had I been working, it would have been tough to attend, because the exhibit runs from October of this year until February of next year. With that time frame, the only way I would have been able to attend would have been during Christmas vacation and there's enough other stuff going on at that time. But, because I have extra free time now, I decided to make a road trip out of it and come in the middle of October figuring that the weather would probably be the best of the time frame. Well, that's another story altogether.

As a disclaimer, I wouldn't call myself a Monet devotee.  I enjoy artwork for art's sake. I just found this exhibit interesting because it would be a very large collection of paintings by a particular artist that was supposed to show a well rounded collection of his work. I would have been just as excited about attending this exhibit had it been Picasso, or Van Gogh. I was looking forward to seeing the art, not necessarily the artist.

The artwork was arranged over two floors of the DAM museum annex with scheduled entries every 15 minutes. When it came close to my time, I queued up and waited for them to let us in to the exhibit. As we entered, we were given headset devices that we could listen to at our leisure that gave much more in detail information about different paintings as we walked around the two floors of the gallery. The nice thing about this was it kept people fairly quiet and it was also set up on two levels, one for adults and one for kids. I listened to one of the kids level portions and that was enough for me, but I could see where it would keep younger audience members engaged in the exhibit.

Most of the artwork was arranged chronologically, so I got to see how his art progressed throughout the years. The three paintings that I have posted here I found the most interesting mainly because of the information I had been given by my headset during the time I was looking at the particular paintings.

The first painting was taken on many of his excursions down to the southern coast of France. He loved painting the people and the beach scenes. What I found the most interesting of this particular paintings, was that they were able to discern that most of his work during this particular period, was actually painted right down at the beach and not in his art studio. He did not sketch the scene, then go back and paint the scene from memory, opting rather to paint right there. They know this because of careful analysis of the painting reveals small grains of sand in the paint that had been blown about with the breeze along the beach.

The second photo shows a waterfront scene painted in Amsterdam. Analysis of this basically proves that he painted this while sitting in a boat because it's the only spot where one could get that perspective of the scene. That's some serious dedication to sit there for hours, possibly days in a boat to get the scene the way he wanted it portrayed.

Quite possibly the most interesting painting to me was the third shot here, showing the Seine River in Paris almost frozen over during the winter of 1879. Because Monet was actively painting during this entire period, he captured the weather of the era as well. This is a time of a mini ice age in Europe and meteorologists actually use his paintings to get a sense of what the weather and climate were like in this area during this period because of his attention to details.

All in all, I enjoyed my time at the DAM and was very glad that I was able to view this collection of Monet paintings. I hope you enjoyed some of these samples of his work. If you'd like to see one other painting, there's another example of his work in this blog entry about halfway down.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Light Show

Besides the Monet exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), there was also a large collection of British portraits and an entire exhibit dedicated to light and how light plays out in certain genres. Several of the pieces caught my attention, including this sculpture using a series of monitors and an old pay phone. On the wall behind this piece was a set of sentences that read, "You watch to much TV. You read too much TV. You are too much TV."

I'm not sure if that's totally correct. While I fully admit that I used to watch a lot of TV when I was younger, I don't as much now. However, while I'm not watching as much TV, there's a certain amount of screen time with other technologies that aren't TV that have taken up the slack and I'm sure if everyone really looked at their own life, they'd probably see similar things going one with themselves as well. Most of us use a screen in our work and in our leisure, be it a smart phone, or a computer, or a tablet. Video games, YouTube videos and the like are constantly screaming for our attention, so this particular piece did hit a note.

While wandering around this floor of the museum, I actually walked right past an Ansel Adams print they had on the wall. How I missed it the first time around is beyond me since I'm a big fan of Adams and have admired his work from an early age. I even have a poster of this exact print that my wife gave to me for Christmas one year before we were even married. Suffice to say, she knew my tastes pretty well, even back then.

The funny thing about artists is we tend to revere what we like and usually, not always, but usually assume that because they are good in one field of art, they should be good in all fields. That's not the case and it's true with Adams. At one point in my life, there was an Ansel Adams show at one of the Claremont Colleges of his portraitures, which I attended because, as I said before, I was a fan of his. This exhibit was 100 portraits by Ansel Adams.

I'm sure others went away satisfied with this particular exhibit. I did not. I have come to the conclusion that Adams was not a good portrait person. I felt that most of the portraits lacked any kind of depth and they were sorely lacking when compared with his landscapes. But, as I've said in the past, art is subjective and others, I'm sure came away with a new found respect for him.

This particular print of Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is one of his most famous images. He encountered the scene while driving down a highway from another photo shoot and had only minutes to set up his equipment and take an exposure. In fact, he only took this one exposure. Later, when asked, he couldn't remember the date the photo was taken, but an astronomer in Boulder, Colorado was able to use basic knowledge of when Adams was in the area, surveying tools, astronomical information, and moon cycles to later determine that the photo was taken on October 31, 1941 at 4:03 PM. This time has since been correct to November 1, 1941 at 4:49 PM. Apparently, the error was due to a number of things, including incorrect geographic coordinates and the curvature of a computer monitor. You can read the account here in a 1991 Los Angeles Times article

Perhaps why I didn't see this particular Adams print on my first go around was I was distracted by the hall of mirrors. Or at least that's what it looked like at first when I approached it. What looked like a fun house type of mirror exhibit turned out to be very interesting once I entered it.

First, I had to don booties to keep smudges off the mirrors. Yep, not only did this hallway have mirrors on the walls, but it also had them on the floors and ceilings, making for a very surrealistic tunnel that seemingly stretched forever in all directions. Because of the vantage point of all of the mirrors, you can actually see the booties I'm wearing in the third photo. Later in the morning, I had to walk through this again, even though it was only a 20 foot hallway. I really liked the illusion of floating on air.

I think I noted in my last blog entry that the DAM is undergoing some major renovation, so there's not as many pieces on exhibit at this time. Couple that with the two floors that were solely dedicated to the Monet paintings and there wasn't a lot to see there. However, what was available, was fascinating, in my opinion and it made me want to come back in a couple of years to take in the full museum once the renovations are totally complete.

My next blog entry will be devoted to the Monet exhibit.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Whimsical Art

The next day was devoted to driving to Denver, Colorado. The plan was to visit the Denver Art Museum (DAM) the following day because there was a large retrospective exhibit of Claude Monet paintings that had just opened up the third Monday of October. I had heard about this exhibit months before I retired and had decided that I wanted to see it and this was the perfect time to go. Other works of art that are temporary exhibits I hadn't been able to attend because of time restrictions mainly because of work. Now, with the time off and this exhibit only going to be at the DAM until February, I made it a priority to attend. I'll be writing about the Monet exhibit in a future blog post.

Those of you who know me well, know I like a variety of art, with photography up near the top of the list. I also enjoy whimsical pieces and temporary pieces of art. Usually, temporary pieces of art tend to be environmental pieces and so they blend in with the landscape. The Field of Lights that I wrote about here or much of what Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created, fall into that category. Because environmental art is usually outside, you get to watch the play of light or weather on the pieces, which creates different moods to the piece.

There were several pieces of art outside the DAM that fit this description. The first one that caught my eye was the Giant Broom and Dustpan outside the entrance of the museum annex. As you can see by the photo, it's a giant broom and dustpan with a couple of pieces of rubble caught up in the bristles of the broom.

The beauty of art is that it's open to interpretation. What some people find fascinating, others will look at it and go "Huh?"  Art is subjective. I like art like this. I also enjoy a good sense of humor, which the museum definitely has, based upon the sign at the base of the Giant Broom and Dustpan.

I get that the museum doesn't want people climbing all over the sculpture and they could have just posted a sign stating quite clearly, "KEEP OFF THE SCULPTURE." But where the fun in that? And so we're left with this sign posted at the base of the Giant Broom and Dustpan, giving appropriate behavior when around such a thing. Clearly, a lot of thought went into this, because it's appropriate to verbally abuse the broom, but it's not OK to skate on the broom. Looking at it, I could see where skaters might be able to grind on some of the bristles, which could damage the sculpture and probably put the museum in a liability bind. Better to be safe than sorry I suppose. And what's the difference between touching, fondling and caressing? Yeah, we could get into a lengthy discussion on that, but I don't think I really want to go there, do you?

I have a couple of regrets regarding this piece of work. First, I should have gotten a photo of the piece with a person near it so you could see the scale. This is actually a pretty large piece of art. Second, I should have gone back to see it after the snow fell that night. I was back in the same general area the next day and could have easily walked over and seen what it looked like with snow covering it, but I got involved in a couple of other things and it completely slipped my mind. And so it goes. 

My next couple of posts will be dedicated to art on the inside of the museum.