Photo(s) of the Week: Cattle Drive

Posted by Adrienne on July 31, 2013 under Uncategorized | No Comments

We found this series of sculptures portraying a cattle drive in a park in downtown Dallas, Texas:

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From Dallas, Texas

Dallas was on the Texas Road, a pre-Civil War cattle drive route from central Texas to Kansas City and other railheads in Kansas and Missouri.

The sculptures cover a large area in the park, and even interact with the surrounding landscape, coming down a hill and passing through a small creek:

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From Dallas, Texas

Note the cowboy at the top of the hill, and all the cows coming down the slope:

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From Dallas, Texas

The amount of detail on the different cows and the three cowboys is stunning. The cows all have brands on them, and we saw several different designs of brands. The cowboys have all the right kind of gear – the spurs even spin! – and two of the three are herding stray cows back into the line:

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From Dallas, Texas

The third cowboy sits on the top of the hill overlooking the herd of cows and the park. His view from the top of the hill is worth the climb, but we seem to have not taken a good photo of it, so you’ll just have to visit Dallas yourself to see!

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From Dallas, Texas

Photo of the Week: Studying the Stars

Posted by Adrienne on July 24, 2013 under Uncategorized | No Comments

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, has long been an important place for studying the movements of stars, planets and other celestial bodies. There are many telescopes at the Royal Observatory, including this one:

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From Greenwich

This long telescope is in the Octagon Room in Flamsteed House, the original observatory building. The building was designed in 1675 by Sir Christopher Wren (architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London) at the behest of King Charles II, who also created the role of Astronomer Royal and appointed John Flamsteed to the position. The king wanted reliable star charts to help sailors navigate the oceans, and establishing the observatory at Greenwich was the means to accomplish this.

The Octagon Room was supposed to be the main workspace for Flamsteed, where he could observe celestial events like comets, eclipses, and star movements, through the large windows and the telescope seen here. However, the building is positioned poorly for this purpose; none of the walls of the building align with a meridian, so measurements of positions weren’t accurate. Flamsteed had to do much of the work for creating reliable star charts in a small “shed” in another part of the observatory grounds. Presumably, no one had the nerve to tell King Charles this, and the king appears to have thought that all the useful scientific measurements coming from the observatory were made in the handsome eight-sided room. This was probably for the best.

There have been 13 other Astronomers Royal that have succeeded Flamsteed. A list of them (with portraits) is here.

Photo of the Week: Union Station, LA

Posted by Adrienne on July 17, 2013 under Uncategorized | No Comments

We stopped by Union Station in Los Angeles, and found this nice fountain next door at the Metropolitan Water District:

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From Los Angeles, California

The fountain juxtaposes nicely with the famous train station clock tower.

Photo of the Week: Sparkling Blue and Evergreen

Posted by Adrienne on July 10, 2013 under Uncategorized | No Comments

Our visit to Cape Alava, Washington, was a beautiful sunny day. We enjoyed walking along the beach and seeing the sun on the water:

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From The Beautiful Pacific Northwest

We haven’t been to many beaches that feature evergreen trees almost down to the shoreline, so it was interesting to juxtapose the pine branches with the seaweed and the saltwater.

Photo(s) of the Week: At the High Water Mark

Posted by Adrienne on July 3, 2013 under Uncategorized | No Comments

Today is the 150th anniversary of the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. 150 years ago today, the ill-fated Confederate attack known as Pickett’s Charge occurred. The entire battlefield is a national park, and it is quite an interesting place to visit. We stopped there in 2007 to see the battlefield, and I’ve thought about our visit several times over the past few days as I have read accounts of the three-day battle.

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

This statue of the Federal commander at Gettysburg, General George G. Meade, stands between Meade’s headquarters and where the Federal defensive line was located. Meade is most famous for commanding the Federal army at Gettysburg, although he also served in the American army during the Mexican-American War and after the Civil War, during Reconstruction.

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

The “High Water Mark” is the name given to the place where the Confederate troops came closest to the Federal line on July 3, 1863. Because the rebels couldn’t break through the line, and because of the high number of casualties they sustained, the battle of Gettysburg, and in particular, “Pickett’s Charge” are considered by many to be the turning point of the American Civil War.

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

The Confederate charge on the afternoon of July 3 was supposed to break the Federal defensive line and take out the Federal artillery. Cannons at the time were large and unwieldy, as shown in the photo above. Confederate artillery had fired at the Federal position for about two hours before the charge began, so the Federal batteries weren’t in good shape.

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

The Confederate infantry began their attack from about where the treeline is in the distance in the above photograph. Major Henry L. Abbott, a Union officer from Massachusetts wrote later: “Had our batteries been intact, the rebels would never have got up to our musketry, for they were obliged to come out of the woods & advance from a half to 3/4 of a mile over an open field & in plain sight. A magnificent sight it was too…”

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

The Federals had the advantage of numbers and of position, and while the Confederates came very close to breaking the defensive line, they were ultimately repulsed. It’s easy to read summaries of the action like this one but not really be able to picture what the battle was like. Being able to see the terrain and to see how far the distance is that the rebel soldiers marched while being fired on makes all the difference. Really, it’s crazy that the Confederates got as close to the line as they did – shooting at their advancing lines was not quite as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, but it was close.

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From Gettysburg and Antietam

The copse of trees in the middle of the above photo shows the “High Water Mark.” It’s a striking visual and really helps to make clear the events of the final day of the battle. The large number of artillery pieces and of memorial statuary also makes for lots of interesting spots to explore.

If you ever get a chance to visit Gettysburg, you should definitely do so. To get the full effect, visit in the summer like we did, when it is tremendously hot.