Thursday Doors: Mare Island

Located just over the bridge from the city of Vallejo, California, Mare Island was established in 1854 as the first naval shipyard on the West Coast. During World War II the base had a population of 46,000 and played a critical role in the military’s efforts.

It was at Mare Island on Dec. 7, 1941, that an urgent transmission came reporting the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor. And it was there that the guts of the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima were loaded aboard the cruiser Indianapolis.

The shipyard was closed in 1996 after producing 512 ships, including 17 nuclear submarines. After years of neglect, Mare Island is currently reinventing itself as a desirable place to visit, recreate, and live.

Lucky for me and others who lust-for-rust and pray-for-decay, much of the old shipyard and many of the buildings used by the military still stand. Although the brick warehouses are being renovated into breweries, brewpubs, distilleries, and office space, the beautiful old shells – and doors – remain… at least for now.

 

Decay makes me happy.
Rust, broken windows, and doors… oh joy!
Rusty stairs.
What a great door for a brewpub!
I think I can see a door… but this shot really is for Dan.
Shelters built to protect shipyard workers from potential Japanese air raids.
The shelters literally line some streets.
Undated picture of children filing into the shelters.

Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.

 

GratiTuesday: Rainy Days

Southern California hadn’t had significant rainfall since May of 2017, when we received just under an inch. Then yesterday, a strong sub-tropical storm sent both wind and rain our way – bringing much-needed moisture to our parched region.

My husband and I removed our grass and other thirsty plants from our landscaping and installed drought-tolerant succulents years ago. But, even though these elegantly architectural plants can survive on little water, they also welcome the rain; catching and displaying the droplets on their broad, fleshy leaves.

Agave attenuata
Agave ‘Blue Glow’
Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’

I am grateful for the end of a long dry spell, and I hope for more rainy days before too long.

GratiTuesday: Making a Gratitude Adjustment

I have been considering making a few tweaks to my GratiTuesday posts, and the start of a brand new year seems like the perfect time to put them in place. I really enjoy writing these posts and, judging by the likes and comments they receive, they are popular and appreciated. Just as I had hoped, thinking about possible subjects for my (almost) weekly posts has helped to foster a greater awareness of the beauty and goodness around me.

My original intention was for these posts to be short ones. Easy to write, and quick to read. Pretty soon, though, they began to morph into longer essays, which, of course, take more time to put together (have I mentioned that I am a tortured writer?).

Starting next week, my GratiTuesday posts will often consist of just a photograph and a short expression of gratitude or appreciation. Most likely, the comment section will be turned off for these posts too. Easy to write, and quick to read. Changing the format will also give me a chance to concentrate more on my photography, which is a retirement passionette of mine.

I am so grateful for the freedom retirement gives me to start, stop, revise, and adjust. Although I love the connections I make through my blog, I am looking forward to spending less time in front of my computer screen and more time enjoying this remarkable stage of my life.

Thursday Doors – Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend sits at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Because of its prime location near the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the site of a safe harbor, it became an important shipping port in the late 1800s. The town grew rapidly on speculation as investors banked on Port Townsend becoming the largest port north of San Francisco. Although that dream never came to fruition, many beautiful Victorian homes and historical buildings still stand as a reminder of its heyday.

Boating and maritime life are still central elements, but now Port Townsend is also well-known as an artists’ community. The tree-lined streets of the waterfront downtown area features multiple galleries, artists’ collectives, unique shops, and tempting restaurants.

And doors. Port Townsend has so many beautiful doors, it was hard to capture them all… which I didn’t… which is why I’m sure that I will return.

Thursday Doors is usually run by Norm 2.0, but is guest-hosted by Joey this week. Please visit her blog to find links to more doors.

Grave Discoveries

I’m not sure why I find old cemeteries so intriguing. I do know that I share this interest with many others, including more than a few bloggers. When I did a Google search on this particular fascination, I discovered that there is actually a name for those of us who consider a visit to an old – and the older the better – graveyard an essential stop on any trip: Tombstone Tourists (also, “cemetery enthusiasts,” “grave hunters,” “gravers,” or “taphophiles”).

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit many memorable cemeteries.  Some, like the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, are known for their famous inhabitants. Most, though, are populated by those known and loved only by a relatively small circle of family and friends. And, since the graveyards I love to visit are so old, probably that small circle of people is mostly gone too.

After visiting the Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba a couple of years ago, I thought it would be hard to match it for size, history, and architecture. So, you can imagine my excitement (OK, maybe if you don’t share this particular passion, it may be hard to imagine my excitement) when I discovered a city cemetery while looking at a map of Oaxaca. Even better, by the looks of the area indicated on the map with little crosses, it was a big one. Yippee!

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Oaxaca’s San Miguel Cemetery was established in 1829 because of the city’s urgent need to bury large numbers of citizens killed by a smallpox epidemic. In 1833, it again was used to bury victims of cholera. Construction of a chapel in the middle of the cemetery was started in 1839, but was suspended due to, according to a plaque, “constant rebellions that were held in that time in the city.” Suspended, and never finished (an old crumbling building… yippee, again!).

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The cemetery is surrounded by tall stone walls and an interior walkway that features 100 arches and over 2000 burial niches. The gravesites, tombstones, and alters tell a rich history of religious traditions, cultural heritage, and even geology, as many of the graves show the effects of the multiple earthquakes that have occurred over the years.

During the Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead celebrations, October 31st – November 2nd, San Miguel Cemetery is blanketed with flowers, candles and alters decorate the graves, and each of the burial niches are illuminated. It is supposed to be a spectacular sight; one that I hope we will experience for ourselves in the next few years.

The heART of La Paz

La Paz was not a destination that had been on my radar screen. There are several other locations in Mexico that we plan to visit, but when some friends asked if we’d like to join them in southern Baja for a week, we said “yes” (“yes” being our favorite word now that we’ve retired).

La Paz Map

Although we were headed for a resort a few miles from the city, I knew that my husband and I wouldn’t be satisfied staying in the cocoon of the compound. We wanted to explore the surrounding area, especially the city of La Paz.

The bit of research we did before our trip told us:

  • La Paz, which translates to “The Peace,” is located close to the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. With about 250,000 inhabitants, La Paz is the capital of the state of Baja California Sur.
  • Because it is located on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, La Paz is known for water-centric activities like swimming fishing, sailing, snorkeling, diving, whale-watching, and kayaking.
  • The city of La Paz has a nostalgic and provincial atmosphere, with a laid-back lifestyle, friendly residents, and wonderful cuisine.

What my research didn’t tell me about was La Paz’s rich and ubiquitous art scene. As I walked around the city, I was thrilled to find richly colorful murals, whimsical sculptures, and small pocket parks that not only offered quiet places to relax in the shade, but also beautiful and thoughtful design.

The weather was perfect, the sea a tranquil mixture of turquoise and deep blues, and the resort where we stayed was gorgeous, but it’s the city of La Paz and its art that will bring me back some day.

(I’ll show more art in my next post. Apparently WordPress has a limit.)

Mural 2

Mural 1Mural 3Mural 5

0 to 5161 in three weeks

Last night, my husband and I arrived back home after being on the road for three weeks.  We took off from Southern California on April 24 with a rough itinerary that included a couple of hard dates but also a lot of flexibility. We had family and calendared events waiting for us in Omaha and later in St. Louis, but, other than that, we were on our own.

A quiet walk among the the red rocks in Capitol Reef National Park
A quiet walk among the the red rocks in Capitol Reef National Park

The 5,161 miles we traveled took us through 14 states and to 11 national parks and monuments, several state parks, and quite a few museums. We had days when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, days full of ice and snow, and just about every weather pattern in between. We experienced the majesty of nature in the red rocks of Utah and Arizona and the audacity of men whose dreams led them to carve the likenesses of four presidents and an Indian chief on the sides of mountains. We saw a giant depression in the earth where a meteorite landed 50,000 years ago and we enjoyed the kitsch of visiting a giant rocking chair and sleeping in a motel room shaped like a teepee along the route made famous in the 1920s and 1930s.

My husband, best friend, and traveling buddy (I’m fortunate to have all three wrapped in one person) indulged my photographic whims by happily stopping whenever I asked him to. Our tastes are similar enough so that we usually easily agreed on attractions to stop for as well as food and lodging choices, but we are flexible enough so that we could change plans to accommodate each other’s interests.

Today is the one-year anniversary of my retirement. Over the past twelve months we’ve taken two driving trips and two trips that have required getting on a plane. Planes allow us to get to far-off destinations, but there is nothing like a road trip to best explore this country and build a greater understanding of ourselves and others.

As I do on every one of our travels, I kept a journal of our day-to-day activities and adventures. I also jot down inspirations, insights, and possible blog topics as they occur to me. I will share some of these over the next several posts.